b99 is back, baby!


You may be asking yourself why a show whose pilot was about a ridiculous man-child who sexually harrasses his coworker is one of my absolute favorite shows on TV right now, and probably of all time.

Well, my friends, there are a multitude of reasons. Importantly, even while Jake Peralta was busy being kind of the worst, the writing was on point and very funny, and even more importantly, this character-driven show is a true ensemble show. Everyone, especially Jake, has grown and changed a lot over the five years we've been with them, becoming more and more complex and believable as the years progress. Jake undoubtedly becomes a better person through his sometimes adversarial, always father-figure-y relationship with Captain Raymond Holt and by falling - hard - for Amy Santiago, a woman who no man ever gets over (see: Teddy Wells, Constantine Kane, Jake Peralta, undoubtedly many others from various math camps and sudoku cruises). Close to a third of the core characters are queer, and less than a third are white men.

Also, and I can't overstate the importance of this, this is a cop show that is critical of the police and the prison-industrial complex. The overall attitude of the show is that while, yeah, there may be good cops, there are large, institutional problems, like racial profiling (see: Moo Moo (s4e16), Boyle's Hunch (s3e3)), unlawful arrest (Boyle's Hunch again), and white patriarchy (see: Deputy Commissioner Pedalski, Captain Jason Stentley, the commissioner race in which there are two John Kellys, the Vulture). They also don't hesitate to point out bad cops and the ways in which personal problems can result in bad policework and wasted time/money/everything: the negotiator in The Negotiation (s5e13), again and always the Vulture, CJ, Madeline Wuntch, Jake in 48 Hours (s1e7).

And, honestly, sometimes the criminals are more likable than the cops. The epitome of this is Doug Judy, aka the Pontiac Bandit, who ends up giving Jake a French gray le Creuset as a wedding present. But there are plenty of other examples: Savant (one of two Asian characters in the entire series, if I'm not mistaken - both of whom are hackers (they really need to do better on this)) gets busted for hacking their firewall and ends up being hired as their IT guy, Rosa's Little Brother from Brooklyn Big Brothers gets brought in for stealing a cell phone, Caleb the cannibal who saves Jake's life. People are complicated in the B99 universe.

Sure, there are inconsistencies. One example: Charles Boyle has to give his ex-wife 85% of his salary as per the divorce agreement (Hostage Situation (s3e11)), yet claims a mere two episodes later to have a ton of disposable income when competing with Rosa Diaz for an apartment (The Cruise (s3e13)), even though "the pay is LOL" (The Swedes (s3e9)). But the important things remain the same: the souls of the characters, if not their details, are constant.

One thing that's incredibly important to me is how long-term romantic feelings are handled. In Det. Dave Majors (s2e21), Rosa asks Jake why he told Majors that it was cool for him to ask out Amy, and Jake says that he can't stop other guys from asking her out just because he's too chicken to ask her out himself. In season 1, it's set up in the pilot that Boyle is in love with Rosa. In most shows, if there's a likeable male character who's in love with a female character, the woman will eventually fall for the guy, too. But in the case of Boyle and Rosa, even though he gets shot in the line of duty saving her, she tells him that she's not interested and that he needs to move on AND HE DOES. Boyle and Rosa never get together; they end up becoming good friends (Boyle is one of Rosa's maids of honor in Paranoia (s3e20)), and Boyle even apologizes to her for how much of a creep he was while he was in love with her. That development is incredibly unique in the world of TV.

I've written about one of B99's major problems before - their handling of mental health, including multiple suicide jokes - so I realize it's not a perfect show. But in my opinion, it's very, very close. In every difficult-topics episode, there are moments between the characters affected without anyone else (the many scenes of just Holt and Terry talking about blackness, power, and profiling in Moo Moo, Holt and Rosa's sweet moment (with one of the best lines in the series) in Game Night (s5e10), and I'm going to include Rosa and Amy's convo about being women in the NYPD in Sal's Pizza (s1e9)). I can't stress enough how important that is. Holt and Terry's conversations in Moo Moo are straight up unheard of on any TV, let alone a very popular network show in a prime timeslot.

So I'm extremely stoked for season 6, what may be (and possibly (probably) should be) the capstone of the series. It premiered last night, so go forth and stream, my lovelies!