How does a cop sitcom do when George Floyd’s unfunny death by a officer changes the plans for the eighth and final season of the show? Brooklyn Nine-Nine didn’t address Floyd in depth, but it didn’t shy away from acknowledging police brutality and police union corruption nor from offering a subtle critique of politicians more interested in virtue signaling than in solving problems.
Season 2 revisits the show’s past traditions, with criminal justice reform not the main focus. The season’s opener features Detective Jake Peralta as an investigator genius. Peralta tells a victim to police brutality that they’re “one the good ones”. However, Peralta soon discovers that even though the system is good, it can sometimes fail. Peralta is later arrested for wrongful conduct, but he then confesses to wrongdoing even though the police union says he shouldn’t and gets a suspension.
Most of the time, series characters respect due process rights more than seeing them in a way that can be violated to seek justice. A trend which is all too prevalent in serious police procedurals. But, in the end, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s In order to persuade the commissioner to institute police reform, the crime-fighting heroes stole from the police union president (and his mother) and misled them. While good cops hoodwinking bad cops in service of police reform is a great comedy set piece, it’s still true that noble ends shouldn’t be used to justify crooked means—especially for police officers, with their special powers and privileges.