Brooklyn Nine-Nine finally tackles police racism in latest season 4 episode

It's a subject many have been calling the US sitcom to address for a while now

Jacob Stolworthy
Thursday 04 May 2017 13:20
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Cop sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine finally tackled a subject that many have been calling the US series to address for quite some time now - racism in the police force.

The show's latest outing, titled 'Moo Moo,' focused squarely on the issue with showrunner Dan Goor dedicating an entire episode to the consequences of racial profiling.

At the centre of the episode was Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) who finds himself stopped by a rude and later unapologetic white cop looking for his daughter's missing toy. When Jeffords decides to file a complaint against the officer, he meets an obstacle in the form of Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher) who is concerned the complaint against the profiling officer will derail his advancement up the NYPD ladder.

Occurring concurrently with this is Detectives Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and girlfriend Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) who must talk about racism in the police force to Terry's twin daughters who they're babysitting.

For a series to have yet addressed this subject, it was a relief that the hit series - now on its fourth run - tackled the subject head-on in a spirit that remaind true to the show.

The Washington Post caught up with Goor who explained this was an area he has wanted to explore from the series' early days.

He said: “I just had so much trouble finding a way in and then figuring out exactly how to pull it off. The difficulty was that our guys are cops, and we portray the cops as good guys, and so it’s very difficult. I didn’t want to compromise our cops, and I also felt like something such as stop-and-frisking or racial profiling wasn’t in the character of our cops. So then it became a question of who’s it happening to, and how is it happening?

“This season, I was talking with one of our writers, Phil Jackson, who ended up actually writing the episode. And he very much believed in the idea, and the episode, and I think without him, maybe it wouldn’t have happened. He really kept pushing us, pushing me, and saying 'We can do this, we can figure this out.'”

Goor added that the moment which really sold the episode to him was Holt's refusal to support Jefford's application.

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“When we were coming up with the story, I really thought, 'Okay, there’s no question Holt would support Terry in this endeavour.' And then when I pitched it out to Andre, he said: 'I think Captain Holt would tell him that’s a bad idea.' It was really a jaw-dropping moment. I said, 'But Holt has faced such adversity and prejudice.” And he said “Yeah, but, in all of those flashbacks, Holt sort of takes it with the understanding that he’s going to be the best cop possible, and rise through the ranks, and exact his revenge by changing the culture of the force.'

And that really just blew the whole thing open. It felt like any time when you’re writing, you can get a character to do something that is totally surprising but also completely consistent with their character, that feels like, you know it’s a great moment.“

Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs int he UK on E4. The first three seasons are available to watch on Netflix.

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