It’s been a month since George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police, and the ramifications of the actions of the officers involved have been widespread. In the entertainment world, a particular point of scrutiny has been Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which has ditched several new episodes as a result of the social unrest.
Terry Crews, who plays Sgt. Terry Jeffords on the show, explained the abandoning of the completed material and the reasoning behind it.
“Four [new] episodes [were] all ready to go and they just threw them in the trash. We have to start over. Right now we don’t know which direction it’s going to go in. [The cast has had] a lot of somber talks about it and deep conversations and we hope through this we’re going to make something that will be truly groundbreaking this year. We have an opportunity here, and we plan to use it in the best way possible.”
He also called the reaction to Floyd’s death “Black America’s #MeToo movement,” and that “we always knew this was happening, but now white people are understanding.”
Although Brooklyn Nine-Nine takes place in an off-kilter world and is driven by comedic situations, it does occasionally delve into social issues. In season 4 episode “Moo Moo,” Terry is arrested by a racist officer, only to be released after proving himself to be a cop. It’s made clear that the officer’s actions were driven by nothing but his own bigotry, and unusually for the show, there’s no attempt made to mine any humor from the scenario.
Other moments have similarly touched on institutional bigotry, such as in first season episode “Old School,” where Holt points out that the whitewashed hyper-masculine world of ‘70s policing that Jake idolizes would have prevented his Latina colleagues Rosa and Amy from ever having been detectives, or a gay black man such as himself from becoming captain.
Of course, the show has been accused of acting as police propaganda, portraying the force as being staffed by people who may screw up but ultimately do the right thing, which runs decidedly counter to many people’s real-life experiences with it. I think that the intent is far more benign than that though, simply using the setting for a workplace comedy, but I also appreciate that as a white guy from Scotland, my perspective on the matter is somewhat skewed.
While Crews doesn’t offer any specifics on the new direction Brooklyn Nine-Nine is going to be taken in, it’s not much of a leap to surmise that in the current social climate, it would be irresponsible for a show focusing on the actions of the police to continue as if everything in that world is normal, and that when it returns its revised content will definitely reflect this.