Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andre Braugher has been talking about the issues that the show faces going into Season 8, now that the writing team behind the comedy series have decided to scrap their initial scripts in the wake of global Black Lives Matter protests and continuing police brutality in America, and start over from scratch.
Braugher, who has played Capt. Raymond Holt on the beloved sitcom since 2013, notes that when addressing its lighthearted portrayal of police behavior, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has – for the most part – been no different to other shows in sweeping the more distressing facts under the carpet for entertainment purposes.
The actor previously starred in NBC’s acclaimed cop drama Homicide: Life on the Street for six seasons before landing the part of Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and has spent some time thinking about what these roles have contributed to the public’s perception of the police.
“I look up after all these decades of playing these characters, and I say to myself, it’s been so pervasive that I’ve been inside this storytelling, and I, too, have fallen prey to the mythology that’s been built up,” Braugher said in a new interview with Variety. “It’s almost like the air you breathe or the water that you swim in. It’s hard to see. But because there are so many cop shows on television, that’s where the public gets its information about the state of policing. Cops breaking the law to quote, ‘defend the law,’ is a real terrible slippery slope. It has given license to the breaking of law everywhere, justified it and excused it. That’s something that we’re going to have to collectively address — all cop shows.”
He added “the myth that the outcomes of the criminal justice system are not dependent upon your race has to be confronted.”
Braugher admits that it’s going to be hard to keep the jokes coming when it comes to facing the situation head-on in Season 8, and that co-creator Dan Goor’s efforts to incorporate a more realistic version of policing in America may ultimately fail, but he still seems to feel positive that it’s the right thing to do.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine has to commit itself, as a comedy, to telling the story of how these things happen, and what’s possible to deal with them. I don’t have any easy answers, nor do I have a window into the mind bank of this writing staff. Can you tell the same story? Can anyone in America maintain any kind of innocence about what police departments are capable of?
“Can a comedy sustain the things that we’re trying to talk about? I don’t know. It could be a really groundbreaking season that we’re all going to be very, very proud of, or we’re going to fall flat on our face. … But I think this is a staff, a cast and a crew that’s willing to take it on and give it our best. I think we have a damn good chance to tell the kinds of stories that heretofore have only been seen on grittier shows.”
NBC has not yet set a premiere date for Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s eighth season, but we’ll keep you posted.