Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts: B99 vs. SVU on addressing institutionalized racism

Law & Order SVU season 17 episode 5: Synopsis: “An unarmed black man is shot during the pursuit of a suspect, raising racial tensions; Barba must indict the three officers involved — who claim they followed procedure.”
The squad are chasing a seriously dangerous perp, three policemen corner him and shoot – but it turns out afterwards that it was the wrong guy. The victim dies 😦 and the police department is in trouble. As it does, SVU goes into details of number of bullets fired, they hold an indictment and question all the officers involved and hold an internal investigation. It’s satisfying to watch justice being done, even though the episode ends before the full trial, so you don’t know what ends up happening to those specific cops (and I haven’t checked if that’s revealed in the following episodes.)

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Brookly Nine Nine season 4 episode 16: Sgt Terry Jeffords, one of the main characters on the show, is stopped in his neighborhood while out looking for his daughter’s blanky. The cop eventually lets him go when Terry says he’s also a policeman. Terry decides to try to handle it in a friendly way, and at first he meets the other cop in a coffee shop to talk. The cop is sorry he stopped him because Terry is also a cop, but he shows no remorse about the way he acted and says he’s “not going to apologize for doing his job.” Terry’s not satisfied, and decides to file an official complaint. At first the Captain advises against it, saying there could be backlash, but by the end of the episode the Captain changes his mind. Captain Holt is a gay black man, and says the reason he rose through the system was in order to be in a position to make change – so he supports Terry filing the complaint, repercussions be damned. Captain Holt says as a result, the other cop will probably think twice about making another bad stop.

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Both shows make a point of giving airtime to stories like this, and raising awareness is important, but it’s not enough. They both emphasize the feeling of injustice that accompanies the multitudes of cases all across the US and the world – people are just getting away with it.

I think Brooklyn 99’s message was stronger, even though no one died. In this story, the victim was a main character to which the audience has developed an attachment over four seasons. It was that much more shocking that anyone could possibly look at Terry and see just a black man, because we know so much about him. The guy built a princess castle on screen in season one. He’s a dad. He’s a great guy. But this cop didn’t know him – so it was really disturbing to see him escalating so quickly with “hands on your head – don’t move – keep your voice down -” etc while holding a gun. On the other hand, we’re pretty used to seeing lots of flying bullets on SVU, it’s the kind of thing they do a lot. The victim on SVU was an anonymous teenager who didn’t say anything during his minute on screen. It’s hard to empathize with the cops that were involved in the shooting, but they do make a big deal to show how upset they are and how worried that the city is “going to hang them” which seems an inappropriate exaggeration in light of an innocent man’s death at their hands.

Additionally, the Captain’s decision to back Terry’s complaint is meaningful, and (although fictional) shows something that can be done to effect change within the system. It shows people willing to risk their career to make the streets safer for black people. As satisfying as it is to watch ADA Barba question the cops on the stand, at no point is SVU discussing change – they are just representing reality, which is okay, that’s what they do. But it’s another reason why I think B99 wins this round.

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#socialjustice #sgtterryjeffords #captainholt #racism

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Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts: S1E9: Jimmy Brogan’s “Good cops” are toxic masculinity 101

The journalist’s visit to the Nine-nine is a point-by-point unpacking of the components of toxic masculinity. This is the first of many episodes along the theme of “Don’t meet your heroes” which I’ll discuss in a separate post.

Brogan is disappointed that there are no “good cops” left, but fans of the show are loving it.

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So, according to Brogan, what are “good cops”?

  1. Violent. “I once saw Gaminsky choke a hippie to death with his own pony tail.” He glorifies illegal use of force. They endanger themselves and others unnecessarily and brag about the violence inflicted upon them.
  2. Grotesque.“Where’s the can? I gotta unload.” “Maybe you should learn to handle your brown.”
  3. Not interested in being smart. “We used to call guys that bragged about sitting around all day, ‘hair bags.’” This particular dig is referring to the use of computer science in police work.Consume alcohol frivolously. It’s not “manly” to be a nerd. (Oddly, though, it’s not girly either in the real world – huh. It just occurred to me that maybe being into computer science isn’t actually related to gender. Sarcastic? Me???)
  4. Reckless and careless. “Put your head through the door.”
  5. Don’t care about their job. “Being too hungover to chase a perp? That’s a classic old school move.”
  6. Don’t ‘feel’. “I kind of feel like you’re being unfair.” “Feel like? Listen to her, ‘Suzanne Somers’ over here. Talk like a man.” Emotions are for women, then?
  7. Homophobic. “You don’t have to stick up for that homo.” The ultimate threat to toxic masculinity is, of course, being attracted to men. Which makes this moment ever more epic

Jake punching Jimmy Brogan

#jakeperalta #masculinity #toxicmasculinity

Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts: Queer Culture

Queer culture is a prominent theme in the show. It appears first in the pilot with the unveiling of the Captain’s backstory. But the really satisfying moments are in real time.

S1E2: When Jake arrests the deputy commissioner’s son, deputy commissioner threatens to “make his life miserable.” Captain Holt steps in to defend his detective, so the deputy commissioner threatens him as well, stating,”You’ve just made yourself a powerful enemy, Holt.”

And the captain follows with the signature mic-drop of the opening of this show:

You’re gonna have to try a little harder if you want to scare me.

I’ve been an openly gay cop since 1987, so you’re not the first superior officer to threaten me.

You know how I’m still standing here? ‘Cause I do my job.

And I do it right.

Image shows Captain Holt looking condescending, saying "You're not the first superior officer to threaten me."

And then Jake, bless him, says what we were ALL thinking:

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#captainholt #jakeperalta #queerculture

See, there have been LGBT-identified characters appear on TV before, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine takes it up a level, giving representation beyond just about having a gay character. The captain’s statement holds his entire life as a gay man in an openly homophobic environment. It’s an acknowledgement that the characters are not just gay because diversity is in now, but that the captain being gay actually makes him a serious badass.

More on queer culture to come.

Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts: What does Charles Boyle think of Doug Judy?

Jake Peralta’s biggest fans are Charles Boyle and Doug Judy, in that order, because Charles would die for Jake, but Judy puts himself first (not surprising when the alternative is going to jail.)

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But have Boyle and Judy ever been together in an episode? Any time Jake is caught having a friendly interaction with any individual besides Charles (and Amy, because no one ships Peraltiago harder than Charles Boyle), Charles becomes shamelessly jealous and territorial. In the first two episodes with Doug Judy, Jake and Rosa work the case together. In season 3 he meets Judy on a cruise with Amy. We never see them together. I’ll have to revisit this question once I watch seasons 4 and 5 again, but my theory is this:

Boyle doesn’t know about Judy. Jake hasn’t told him. Doug Judy is Jake’s piece on the side with regard to his relationship with Charles.

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And a quick note on the masculinity theme:

“I love you too and I’m proud of us that we’re able to say it.” – DJ to JP, S3E12

#charlesboyle #jakeperalta #friendship #dougjudy #masculinity

Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts – S3E10: Heroes

***Contains spoilers for this episode***

There are four heroes in this episode: Jake, Terry, Charles, and Amy (not necessarily in that order.)

Terry states at Christmas dinner that his family is his number one priority. But when he hears that the detectives are in danger, he rushes to their aid, leaving his biological family behind. He goes head to head with The Vulture, who is motivated only by his own ego and hell-bent on making a dangerous move which could put Jake, Charles and Gina in more danger. To protect his squad, Terry makes a decision that might cost him his job. He heroically overpowers The Vulture, and to hell with the consequences – because the Nine-Nine are also his family. His number one priority, even higher than his career. This is another instance if the chosen family theme which is one of my favorites and which I will discuss at length another time.

The Vulture: Stand down. Sgt. Terry Jeffords: NO.
The Vulture: Stand down. Sgt. Terry Jeffords: NO. 

#terryjeffords #chosenfamily

Jake’s hero move comes when he lets himself get taken hostage to allow Charles to escape. Of course this also allows Charles to rescue the hostages later – Charles’s epic hero moment – but Jake didn’t know that would be the outcome, and was even held at gunpoint before Charles showed up. Jake risked his life to protect his best friend. Season-one-Boyle did this, but would season-one-Jake have done the same thing? I don’t know. In any case, good job, grown-up Jake.

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Image shows Charles holding a walkie-talkie and looking sassy and fabulous

Jake forgets to buy Charles a Christmas present, but Charles recognizes his sacrifice as “The best Christmas present ever.” Sometimes I wonder why Charles likes Jake at all, but if there are enough exchanges like this between them, then I guess their friendship is doing okay.

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Jake and Charles outside the store with lit-up Christmas trees in the background

#charlesboyle #jakeperalta #friendship

And it wouldn’t be fair to do this without mentioning Amy running into the freezing cold water to alert the captain and Rosa to their emergency situation. Good job, grown-up Amy!

#amysantiago

In episode 6 I theorized that this is a turning point in Jake’s reluctant journey to adulthood. And in the two episodes following, Jake faces two major adult decisions: One is deciding on whether to invest in a relationship, and the other is to make a medical decision that will affect someone else. The first thing Jake learns, standing on the fork in the road between breaking up and making a significant commitment to his relationship is that he is not alone out there. Captain Holt gives him sincere relationship advice which Jake takes to heart, and he is then able to make the decision which ultimately saves his relationship.

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#peraltiago

The decision in episode 8 occurs in the midst of several events in which Jake and Holt switched roles, in a way. The Sergeant’s wife is in labor and in need of medical attention, and in order to get her a doctor, Captain Holt has to confront an ex-boyfriend. Captain Holt behaves in an extremely Petty and childish manner the entire episode, tossing passive-aggressive witty comebacks when Jake asks for his help, and not being able to just get over it end admit the thing with the duck. Jake on the other hand exhibits leadership skills and real courage and commitment to following through with the task Terry assigned to him: making Sharon feel comfortable – especially when she goes into labor. He mediates between the captain and the ex, and commands groups of stressed out strangers to clear the room.

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Jake is able to keep a cool head in a crisis (which is not new to us, we’ve seen him do this before) but what is remarkable is his ability to make the decision to go to the hospital despite Sharon and Terry’s insistence that that is not what they wanted. He tries to avoid it at first, but when the clock is ticking and a decision has to be made Sharon tosses him the ball and says “You’re my God-husband. What would you do?” it’s plain that Jake is scared but he also completely owns his decision when Terry shows up at the hospital and is stressed out and yells at him, which is yet another sign of maturity. He made a decision, and he stands by it, saying it was the right thing to do.

#jakeperalta #adulting #captainholt