Presenting OTP Tuesday! Each Tuesday I will introduce you to
a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple
you need to agonize/squee over next. This week is a sort of supercharged BROTP
with the Nine-Nine!
Who Are The Nine-Nine?
Generally a BROTP (or OTP, for that matter) contains two people (hence pairing). I’ve also seen OT3s, where it’s a polyamorous three-person ship. But I’ve never seen a ship like the Nine-Nine: a group of seven characters who, together, form a massive BROTP. The Nine-Nine refers to the employees of the 99th precinct in Brooklyn who make up the show Brooklyn 99.
The Nine-Nine consists of Jake Peralta, Amy Santiago, Rosa Diaz, Charles Boyle, Gina Linetti, Terry Jeffords, and Captain Ray Holt (the 99th precinct also includes Hitchcock and Scully, but no one cares about them). While any two of these characters might have an amazing BROTP (or OTP in the case of Peraltiago), their founding family dynamic is just as interesting and deserves a closer look.
Jake Peralta is the protagonist of Brooklyn 99, and his experience frames the show. Originally presented as a lone wolf and superstar detective, it soon becomes clear that Jake is a huge dork. As a kid, Jake always dreamed of being a cop, mostly due to his favorite movie, Die Hard. He achieved his dream, and is very successful as a cop, though his loose grasp of the rules puts him at odds with his new boss, Captain Holt.
Over time, though, Jake comes to see that the team he has at the 99th precinct is more important than anything he can accomplish on his own. He even comes around to Holt, who begins to fill the daddy-issues shaped hole in Jake’s heart. It’s not long before Jake realized that the Nine-Nine was a great family, and he really found his home there (especially with once-rival detective Amy Santiago).
Amy Santiago was originally presented as Jake’s foil and rival. Fastidious to Jake’s carelessness, precise to Jake’s slapdash approach, Amy is seen as his polar opposite. They started the show as rivals, fighting for the top spot in the precinct as well as Holt’s approval. It’s not long, though, before that changes, as Jake starts to see a different side to Amy.
As Amy fights for recognition and promotion – her ultimate dream is to become a police captain like Holt – she finds herself drawn to Jake as well, and they start dating. Their relationship has become one of the grounding points for Brooklyn 99 and for the entire Nine-Nine family.
Rosa Diaz starts the show as a closed-off, distant, but extremely badass detective. Over the course of the show, though, we get to see more of Rosa than perhaps she would like. Our initial impression is one of too cool for school (or friends). It’s a running joke that Rosa is secretive and isolated, with no one really knowing the true Rosa.
Despite her outward appearances, however, Rosa truly cares about her team at the Nine-Nine. She and Jake attended the police academy together and have a long-standing friendship. An interesting relationship emerges between Rosa and Boyle, who initially had a crush on her but becomes her confidante. Boyle is the first Rosa comes out to as bisexual, showing her real trust.
It would be easy to see Charles Boyle as the laughingstock
of Brooklyn 99, especially since our
first impression was of a loser with a hopeless crush on the too cool for him
Rosa. But that initial impression gave way to a truly endearing character who
brings a lot to the Nine-Nine.
Boyle is a cheerfully overenthusiastic person who sees no
shame in being open with his emotions. He is Jake’s best friend and supports
Jake in everything, even when it’s stupid. Boyle is described as incredibly
hard-working, if not inherently talented, and that makes him a good detective
in his own way. He brings the kind of wide-eyed enthusiasm that a lot of shows
play off as goofy, but he’s just sweet.
Gina Linetti is the polar opposite of Charles Boyle. Unlike Boyle’s open enthusiasm, Gina couldn’t care less about anything, it seems, aside from her interpretive dance crew. Gina is the 99th precinct’s secretary and pseudo-assistant of Holt, who is so different from her it’s nearly laughable, but they find a way to get along well.
One of the interesting things about Gina is that she and Jake grew up together, so they had a prior relationship to working together (in fact, Jake got her the job). Gina forms relationships with the other employees, though her snide demeanor and cutting criticism keep others at arm’s length. She even has a complicated relationship with Boyle, going from casual hooking up to stepsiblings.
Terry Jeffords looked toxic masculinity in the eye and knocked it on its ass, then politely helped it up and showed it how to be better. No one is more inherently likeable in Brooklyn 99 than Terry, whose cuddly interior is at odds with his wonderfully impressive athletic exterior. But Terry is far more interesting than any dude bro with a good body.
A sergeant in charge of the detectives, Terry serves as a
guiding mentor for many of the cast. He is a somewhat paternal figure, in
addition to actually being a family man (with a good relationship with his wife
and his three daughters). He is wonderfully genuine and fun. It’s impossible
not to like Terry.
At the start of the show, Ray Holt is the interloper. The remainder of the cast were already well established at the 99th precinct when Holt came in as the new captain. He immediately clashes with Jake over his no-nonsense approach and strict attention to the rules. Despite this, Holt has become a real favorite.
As he establishes himself and shows more of who he is, Holt manages to acquire the respect and even affection of his team. Jake in particular sees Holt as a father figure, often warring with Amy for Holt’s attention. Terry looks up to Holt as a fellow Black cop, and Rosa is able to bond with Holt about being non-heterosexual. Holt became the leader of the 99th precinct not by rule, but by respect.
Why Is The Nine-Nine BROTP?
Brooklyn 99 has some of the best ensemble-cast dynamics on TV. Lots of shows will have a main protagonist and a variety of deuteragonists. Ensemble casts tend to muddle things a bit more, with varying perspectives each taking precedence. But while Jake is clearly the protagonist of Brooklyn 99, everyone has their chance to shine.
What makes the Nine-Nine so compelling are the relationships they build. Each character forms unique relationships with each other character, with no one left out. You can look at any two characters and write an entire article about how they interact. But at the same time, there’s a group dynamic that is so amazing to watch. Brooklyn 99 has the best dynamic on TV, mostly because of the family we see.
There is nothing better than a good found family dynamic. Often we see broken, lonely characters brought together by circumstance rather than choice, who slowly and begrudgingly realize that they have managed to form really important relationships. But Brooklyn 99 gives us something a little different. One could argue that Jake Peralta is the broken, lonely character, at least at first.
The initial impression we get of Jake is that he prefers to work alone and wants to be a standout star. We also learn that he comes from a bad family background, with his unfaithful dad eventually abandoning the family. So it makes sense that Jake would find his founding family in the Nine-Nine. Holt becomes an easy stand-in for the father Jake, lost at an early age, his stern demeanor and his constant push for Jake to become better at giving him the paternal dynamic he needs.
But that’s not quite what we’re given in the Nine-Nine found
family. Other than Jake, most of the characters have established families. They
might not be perfect (Rosa struggles with her parents’ initial rejection of her
sexuality, Amy fights for recognition among her six brothers) but they are
there. We see several healthy family dynamics. Terry has a sweet family with
his wife and his two daughters, showing a portrait of a loving, devoted father.
Even Holt has a family and a good relationship with his husband Kevin.
The found family dynamic is great because they still choose to be part of the Nine-Nine family, not because of circumstances or needs but because they care about each other. They are there for each other, no matter what, and the family they choose is just as important as the family they come from. It’s beautiful to watch.
Brooklyn 99 has an amazingly diverse cast. The Nine-Nine are a very diverse and interesting group of characters who feel like real people. The fact that this is a police station makes it perhaps a little less realistic, but all the more important, for people from underrepresented groups to see themselves in the police force. Many different groups find representation in the Nine-Nine.
Not all groups find representation (we don’t see disabled characters, for example) but what we get is nothing to sneeze at. There is gender diversity, to an extent. While we don’t see any visibly transgender or non-binary characters, we do have a far better balance of male and female characters than most, with three out of the seven main characters being female. Nearly half might not sound like much, but it sadly is.
We also see good racial diversity in Brooklyn 99, with two Black characters, two Latinx characters, and
three white characters. Again, there could be more. The Nine-Nine lacks any
major Asian characters or Native characters. But compared to most television
statistics, it’s a pretty diverse group. It’s even better given the context. We
are able to see the way a Black cop handles systemic racism in the justice
system, and Holt makes a point of fighting against stop and frisk policies,
even at the risk of his career.
We even see diverse sexualities on Brooklyn 99. Ray Holt is amazing as a Black, gay police captain. We see hints at the struggles he has gone through to get to his position and how he works to support new cops who want to follow his path. When Rosa comes out as bisexual, she is well-supported in the Nine-Nine, not just by Holt. It’s good to see a diverse representation of different sexualities.
What’s Next For The Nine-Nine?
Brooklyn 99 had a wild ride in the last year. The show was originally owned by Fox, who shook entertainment circles when they announced the show’s cancellation in 2018. The show has had five seasons and amassed a cult following (as Michael Schur shows, like The Office or Parks and Recreation, tend to do). Naturally, fans were upset that Fox cancelled the show.
What happened next was a dazzling display of the power of
fans (especially when you have a few celebrities in your corner). Within little
more than a day, the campaign to save Brooklyn
99 had produced results: NBC would pick up the show and produce a
13-episode sixth season, later extended to 18 episodes.
Fans were ecstatic to get more time with our favorites at the Nine-Nine. Season 5 ended on a high note, with Jake and Amy finally getting married and Holt in the running for chief of police. Season six, which is airing now, shows us what happens after. Holt was not chosen as chief of police, and we see him deal with the disappointment and ramifications of another white man being chosen instead. We will also see how the team rallies behind their captain, especially Amy and Jake.
We also get to see more development for some of the exciting things we saw in season 5, like Rosa’s coming out. Season 6 gave us more hints at her relationship prospects, despite her attempts at privacy and her reconnecting with her family. Season 6 also bid farewell to Gina, who left the Nine-Nine for bigger and better things. There’s more to come this season, including an episode about sexual harassment directed by Rosa’s actress Stephanie Beatriz. But so far, no word of a season 7.
Is The Nine-Nine Canon?
That’s the beauty of BROTPS, they’re almost always canon. You don’t tend to get the will-they-won’t-they drama of romantic relationships, and BROTPS rarely “break up” (though it can happen!). So, unless you’re speculating about two characters who have not met but would be super cool together, it’s unlikely for a BROTP to be non-canon. But the Nine-Nine gives us a wealth of canon. Part of this is because it involves so many characters, and the 100+ episodes give a lot of time to expand on the relationships between them. But a lot of why the Nine-Nine is so wonderfully canon is that the showrunners seem really invested in developing these relationships.
We’ve seen relationships that we never expected to flourish as the unlikely friendship between Gina and Boyle. Originally they seemed completely incompatible, but then they started hooking up. Then things got even weirder when their parents started dating and they became siblings, of a sort. Their relationship is strange but sweet, and very indicative of the way Brooklyn 99 handles the dynamics of the group. Everyone gets a chance to shine.
Jake and Amy’s romantic relationship takes a lot of precedences, of course, as we see them develop from rivals to friends to finally dating and now married. But they don’t isolate themselves or shut out the rest of the Nine-Nine. Their platonic relationships are just as important, and it’s beautiful to see a show develop that. Brooklyn 99 gave us something beautiful: a family. We see them coming together over the seasons as people who genuinely care about each other. We see relationships grow and change and evolve. The Nine-Nine is the founding family of our dreams because it’s not by necessity, it’s by choice. They just really love each other.