TV Corner: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

image of the cast of Brooklyn Nine-Nine

[Content Note: Spoilers for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and discussion of a rape culture joke.]

I know there are a lot of posts about TV shows this week, but the new television season started in the US this week, so there are a lot of new shows to discuss!

So, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a new cop comedy on Fox, probably isn't a show I would have watched, except that I love like half the cast. So I watched the first two episodes to see if it was any good. And I was very pleasantly surprised!

First of all, let's talk about the cast: In the above picture, there are seven people, three of whom are women and four of whom are people of color. The show has passed the Bechdel Test, and even in the first two episodes, each character has been fleshed out, with varying degrees of success, beyond lazy stereotypes.

Andre Braugher plays the new hard-nosed but awesomely witty captain who won't let Andy Samberg jerk around all day anymore, and also the captain is gay. Also. In both episodes so far, his character has had serious things to say about what it has meant for his career to be a black gay police officer. Whoa.

Last night's episode was centered around police cars being vandalized with spray-painted dicks (lol), and the perpetrator turns out to be the police commissioner's kid. (Or deputy commissioner, or whatever. Some police muckety-muck.) Which puts the investigating officer (Samberg) in an awkward position. Originally, he decides to prioritize his career and lets the kid go, but then his new captain says smart things that make him reconsider.

He arrives to make the arrest, and the father defends his terrible, privileged, white son who he continually bails out of trouble so he avoids accountability—a defense which ends with (paraphrased from memory): "You can't arrest him. He's going to Duke next year on a lacrosse scholarship!"

[Reference, if you need it.]

I almost did a real-life spit take!

This was, in my estimation, what I call a rape culture joke:
Rape jokes uphold rape culture, while rape culture jokes seek to examine, challenge, dismantle it.

And even still, I understand and respect that some survivors do not and cannot find any rape-related humor funny.

I don't think that makes them "oversensitive." I think that means they've got a different sensitivity than I do.
The joke here, which followed a scene in which Braugher's character observes that never holding this kid accountable isn't doing him any favors, traces a direct line between privilege, entitlement, lack of accountability for harm, and hostility toward consent.

Maybe Brooklyn Nine-Nine will turn out to be total garbage, but, for the moment, it's got my attention.

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