This Brooklyn Nine-Nine review contains spoilers.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 6 Episode 8
Funny cops. A few weeks before Brooklyn Nine-Nine premiered in 2013, Andy Samberg appeared on the dais for a Comedy Central roast of James Franco. Taking aim at his fellow roaster, Bill Hader quipped, “Andy Samberg, looking forward to your new show Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Funny cops. You’re always pushing the envelope, Andy. What’s going to happen when you run out of funny crimes like graffiti and pickpockets? Can’t wait to see episode 10 when Brooklyn Nine-Nine has to deal with a rape. ‘Oh, I dropped the rape kit. Sporgie Dorg!’”
Hader jokingly expressed a real fear for critics before the show debuted; how could Brooklyn Nine-Nine keep a light and airy tone while simultaneously dealing with the serious crimes that actually impact areas like Brooklyn? Would it deal with serious issues? Public sentiment toward police, seen in demonstrations by groups like Black Lives Matter and athletes like Colin Kaepernick, is complicated at best, would the show acknowledge that? How could a comedy get us to sympathize and root for the police in the age of Ferguson? Fortunately, Nine-Nine has been deft at not trivializing murders, violence, and sexual assault while also examining the ways in which police officers can be corrupt, like for instance, in an episode where Terry is arrested in his civilian clothes just for being a black man. Add in the fact the show has been progressive in the ways that it has bucked gender norms, promoted diversity, and avoided writing its diverse cast as stereotypes, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine has proved that it can handle comedy and social commentary gracefully.
That being said, it felt inevitable that the show would address the #MeToo movement, especially with one of its cast members, Terry Crews, being a victim of sexual assault and vocal advocate for other victims and survivors. Directed by Stephanie Beatriz, “He Said, She Said” addresses the topic of #MeToo in a way that Beatriz describes as “subtly discussing social issues through a multifaceted and complex lens while taking you on a comedy joyride.” At times in the episode, the comedy can seem a little jarring. I know the writers don’t want the enterprise to come off like an after-school special or a “very special episode,” but there are a couple moments where I experienced tonal whiplash in ways that I hadn’t when the show had tackled weighty topics in the past. However, the episode largely does an excellent job at highlighting not only the indignities that women are forced to suffer on a daily basis, but the ways in which sexual assault victims are disregarded, humiliated, and professionally stifled when they come forward with their stories.
Jake and Amy are assigned by Holt to team up on a case that involves a finance bro getting his “dong broken” after he’s attacked by a female co-worker who claims that he tried to sexually assault her. After initial interviews, the detectives urge the victim to press charges, but she isn’t so sure, as the firm she works for offers her a lump sum of money for her silence on the matter. Sadly, the victim knows that no one will convict Seth the finance bro if it’s just her word against his. Amy encourages her to testify anyway, saying that she’ll do everything in her power to get some further evidence or something that suggests a pattern of behavior.
The episode’s most complicated scene involves Rosa criticizing Amy’s decision. Despite being a feminist, Rosa says she’s also a realist, and says that the victim Keri would have been better off accepting the hush money. Without evidence, Rosa argues that Keri will not only be forced to endure a humiliating public trial that she’ll most likely lose without evidence, but she’ll also likely lose her job in the process too. By taking the money, Rosa argues she’ll at least get something out of the ordeal. It’s a sad reality that Amy doesn’t want to confront. By coming forward, Amy argues, Keri could inspire more women to come forward about their experiences. Amy and Jake press on to interview Keri’s coworkers, but unfortunately everyone at Keri’s office tows the company line, and as Rosa predict, Keri’s boss rescinds the money offer and fires her once she learns that she’s moving forward with the charges.
At this point, Brooklyn Nine-Nine delivers one of its most poignant, dramatic scenes, as Amy explains why the case is so important to her. With Beatriz keeping the focus tight on Amy and Jake’s faces, dramatic camera angles that I can’t recall seeing on the show before, Amy describes how her former captain came onto her after her promotion to detective, claiming that he “deserved something” in exchange for her career. Melissa Fumero has been doing standout work all season long, but she’s phenomenal here. She and Samberg provide the emotion that the scene calls for. Anyone that argues that Jake and Amy aren’t a believable couple will be eating their words after this one.
Deciding to interview Seth’s co-workers one more time out of the office, Jake and Amy get a colleague nicknamed Beefer to roll on Seth, but his motivations are dubious at best. Regardless, they get the evidence they need to convict Seth, but are dismayed to learn that Keri still quits her job. She states how everyone in the office now views her as either a victim or a traitor, another shitty true-to-life consequence that victims face coming forward that the show is smart to highlight. However, the episode ends with a silver lining, as a female co-worker of Keri’s comes forward with her own story, emboldened by seeing Keri do the same, just like Amy had hoped.
It’s incredible that the episode is able to tell an accurate and nuanced portrayal of what victims of sexual assault go through in just a 22-minute runtime, with several of those minutes dedicated to a B-plot. Though a couple of jokes felt ill-conceived or poorly placed, “He Said, She Said” nails the beats that matter and proves once again how progressive and socially conscious this series can be.
– The B-plot revolves around Holt trying to track down his former nemesis, the Disco Strangler, despite the news that the strangler has died. Holt is convinced his nemesis has faked his death, and sure enough, he learns that he has. The plot is meant to show Holt confronting his age and realizing that his glory days are behind him. It’s serviceable enough, and at least allows us the chance to hear Holt shout, “PROTECT YA NECK”.
– “I think Katheryn Bigelow should direct the next Star Wars. I’ve said that out loud…to other men!” – Seth, the scumbag finance bro.
– “Have fun working, cucks!” – Hitchcock, who certainly should not be anywhere near this episode.
– “I’m the first to tout the capabilities of senior citizens, I’ve made love to many of them! “ – Boyle
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.