Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. For June, I want to share some love for queer content out there, so this week’s bae is Raymond Holt!
Who Is Raymond Holt?
Captain Raymond Holt is one of the main characters of Brooklyn 99. While the show is an ensemble affair, with a large cast of characters each getting full stories and ample screen time, I would argue that Holt is the deuteragonist, the foil to the main character Jake Peralta. The events of Brooklyn 99 are set into motion when Holt joined the 99th precinct police department as the new police captain after the previous captain’s death.
The initial storyline is one of conflict between Holt and Jake, who bristles at the new captain’s by-the-book approach and emphasis on the rules. Jake is a very lackadaisical detective, eschewing the rules for his own approach that, to be fair, does work fairly well. But when Holt comes in, he pushes Jake – and all the detectives in the 99 — to do better. It seems like a standard set-up to show Jake as the beleaguered protagonist being shut down by the man. Holt is very no-nonsense, portrayed as unemotional to the point of being robotic. He’s a stick in the mud destined to ruin Jake’s good time.
However, we soon see the truth of Holt: he’s a good police officer who wants to make everything better. He enforces the rules at the 99 to improve the station’s work and keep their community safer. He pushes Jake constantly because he knows Jake has real potential as a detective, but he needs a fire lit under his ass to do so. The idea that Holt is unemotional and a killjoy is blown away as we get to know Holt; he is very dry and stoic, sure, but he’s more than that. The Halloween episode of season one shows Holt in more depth and is the start of a better relationship with the 99.
The squad at the 99 start to see Holt as less of an interloper and more of a natural part of their team. They are trying to get to know him, despite Holt being a very private man. This doesn’t go so well when they go to Holt’s house for his birthday party, which they were originally not invited to. They fail to make a good impression on Holt’s peers, but Holt defends them when his husband, Kevin, discusses how embarrassing they are. We later learn that Kevin (rightfully) dislikes cops after Holt faced serious homophobia early in his career due to his relationship with Kevin, but Kevin eventually comes around due to the 99’s growing closeness.
As Holt starts opening up, he develops unique relationships with all of the 99 squad. He previously met Terry Jeffords, who tried to help smooth Holt’s transition. They don’t always see eye to eye but do their best to support each other. When Terry is racially profiled in his own neighborhood, Holt initially urged him to let it go, so as not to risk his career. Eventually, Holt realizes that they have a responsibility to make the police system better, and supports Terry in reporting the cop who profiled him. Holt also forms a strong relationship with Amy Santiago, who idolizes Holt as the straightforward, rule-abiding mentor she’s always wanted.
Holt also forms an interesting relationship with Rosa Diaz, who is as closed off and unemotional as Holt. When Rosa starts dating Holt’s nephew Marcus, it forces them into social situations they are uncomfortable with. However, when Rosa breaks up with Marcus, Holt takes her side, and they bond over their discomfort with open emotions. This bonding puts Holt in position as the 99’s “dad,” and they admire and respect him.
These better relationships mean that anytime Holt is threatened, the squad steps up. Holt’s career and safety are frequently imperiled. He first faces a transfer out of the 99 due to a rivalry with fellow officer Madeline Wuntch. The team worked hard to get Holt back, especially as their new captain was rather lackluster. Later, Holt is in actual jeopardy when the 99 runs afoul of a mob boss. Holt and Jake are put into witness protection and sent to Florida. There, Holt masquerades as a widower and struggles to keep up with a heterosexual façade.
Tired of their Floridian lives, Jake and Holt work together to stop the mob boss and regain their lives at the 99. With the help of the squad, who came to their aid, Jake and Holt were able to return to their regular lives, although they still had to work on getting Holt reinstated as captain of the 99. After that, things go well for a time, until Jake and Rosa are framed and end up in prison. Holt made a deal with a criminal to get them cleared. This, unfortunately, ruins Holt’s chances at becoming police commissioner, his lifelong goal.
The team, determined to help Holt, helped him thwart the criminal, who then threatened Kevin. Holt asks Jake to protect Kevin until they can stop the criminal, showing how far they’ve come. Eventually, they cleared Holt and he ran for police commissioner. Sadly, he loses to John Kelly, a nondescript white man who represents everything wrong with the justice system. Holt was initially depressed, but realizes he has to stand up to Kelly. He does so, nearly losing his job, with the help of Wuntch, of all people. In the end, Wuntch takes over and Holt stays with the 99.
Why Is Raymond Holt Bae?
Okay, given that Andre Braugher, the actor who plays Raymond Holt, is older than my mom, I’m not sure bae is the right word. Braugher is definitely awesome, and brings so much life to Holt. He’s a thoroughly enjoyable character. But he’s a little out of my age range. Lovable! Fun! Charming! And I’m sure there are many out there ready to bae the hell out of Braugher and Raymond Holt.
Big Dad Energy
The best part about Raymond Holt is how he came into the 99 as an interloper, yet becomes the squad’s dad. Holt starts the show as a foil to Jake, not quite an antagonist, but definitely not a friend. He is the antithesis of our “hero,” and seems cast to make life more difficult for Jake and the other detectives who have settled in their ways. Of course, it isn’t long before Holt and the squad saw eye to eye — he was never really meant to be an antagonist, of course.
But Holt quickly becomes more than just a boss, even a supportive boss. This was seen most clearly throughout his relationship with Jake. Jake has serious daddy issues due to his father abandoning their family when Jake was just a kid. He carries serious emotional scars from it, and when Holt shows approval, Jake clings to it. He soon sees Holt as a surrogate father figure, referring to Holt as “dad” by accident in conversation, leading to an awkward exchange. Later, when Jake’s real dad returns, he and Holt face off, with Holt being the supportive male role model Jake always needed.
Jake isn’t the only one who accepts Holt as a father figure, though. Amy soon sees Holt as a father figure as well, and she is just as desperate for his approval as Jake, if not more. The ever fantastic “bone” scene features Rosa teasing Amy about her “dads” having sex. Amy and Jake built an interesting relationship with Holt as their mutual father figure, with Holt even officiating at their wedding. In the season six finale, Jake is delighted to get the “proud daddy” moment when Holt praises Jake for his plan to stop Kelly. Dad Holt is an amazing part of the show.
Another absolutely amazing thing about Raymond Holt is what he represents. Cop shows are often flimsy covers for the glamorization and glorification of the justice system, papering over systemic inequality and injustice. Brooklyn 99 manages to show a different side of cops, without losing track of the important issues like racial profiling or sexual harassment. The show really isn’t afraid to tackle the tough subjects, which is sorely needed in today’s society.
Smack in the middle of all that is Captain Raymond Holt, a gay black man. Holt often mentions his early police career and the difficulties he faced dealing with cops who were both racist and homophobic. Yet Holt persevered and overcame obstacles in his early career, managing to become a police captain and a frontrunner in the race for police commissioner. Holt never forgets what he went through, of course, and constantly seeks to make things better for the next generation. He actively goes against police injustice, rather than settling on his laurels now that he’s “made it.” Showing Holt helps Terry with racial profiling and standing up to Kelly’s law-breaking shows he’s not slowing down anytime soon.
As a gay character, Holt is an amazing role model. He’s fully developed and has a ton of nuance – being gay is just one facet of his character, not his whole identity. Holt is a happily married gay man whose husband is just as intelligent and successful as he is. He’s not a “stereotypical” gay man, flamboyant and in your face, but he is undeniably and openly gay. One of the most beautiful moments in the whole show comes after Rosa came out as bisexual. Having experienced the discomfort of coming out, Holt is able to support her and show her the love and respect she needs.
What’s Not To Love About Raymond Holt?
Brooklyn 99 is an amazing show with an amazing cast. There’s a whole lot to love when watching it; although I was initially skeptical of a cop sitcom, the way that Brooklyn 99 beautiful interweaves hilarious plotlines with sensitive subjects puts it on a whole new level of television. And part of what makes Brooklyn 99 so amazing is its characters and the care with which it develops those characters and their relationships with each other.
Captain Raymond Holt is just one example of an amazing character in this show, but he deserves recognition. Holt is a beautifully developed character, his initial stoic, cold, robotic appearance slowly but surely wearing away to reveal the fun, petty, dramatic character underneath. Seeing the relationships that Holt built with the 99, in addition to his prior relationships like his marriage to Kevin, really humanizes Holt. Watching him become Captain Dad is fun and poignant, and feels very rewarding for this character who has so often been denied simple camaraderie and support from his peers.
Of course, Holt is an important character because of what he represents. He’s an icon to queer fans and black fans alike, who are able to see a nuanced depiction of someone like themselves. He isn’t a stereotype, but gives the sort of representation that is sorely lacking in most mainstream television. We have fun moments like Holt saying “yas queen” and “playing the gay card” interspersed with touching moments like his support of Rosa. We get to see the perspective of a person whose story would normally not be told. In this, our month of pride, let’s be thankful for Raymond Holt. He is a queer icon and he deserves all the love and respect the 99 – and the audience – have to give.