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If it feels like all your friends are talking about Brooklyn Nine-Nine, you might be on to something.
A recent study by Nielsen revealed that over the past two years, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the most talked-about comedy series on social media. Of the top-discussed 10 comedy episodes aired since May 17, 2018, nine were Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
These stats happen to have been made available at a time when people are seeking out feel-good TV more than ever due to being quarantined at home because of coronavirus. Though that doesn’t account for Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s social media dominance since 2018, it speaks to the type of television audiences seek out in when the news can be overwhelming.
“I think that the shows that people are going to right now are shows where they’ve invested a lot of time in the characters and the world,” creator and showrunner Dan Goor tells Mashable on the phone.
“You don’t have to think about what you just read on the New York Times homepage. You get to just the kind of sit back and enjoy. And it feels so good that people are thinking about our show that way.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always thrived on streaming (Nielsen reports the Season 6 finale’s viewership increased by nine times since it aired), but the show became a story unto itself when it was canceled in 2018. Within 24 hours, NBC picked the series up from FOX after an upswell of online support from everyone from casual fans to huge Hollywood names.
“All of a sudden there was a real story and narrative about the show itself,” Goor recalls. “Our fans were activated enough to go out there and say they wanted it to continue. And then they were rewarded because NBC continued the show, which I think really fortified their engagement and showed that they matter, which they did and do.”
As shown in the study above by Nielsen, which began tracking the show’s social mentions after that fateful cancelation and renewal, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has stayed at the top of online discourse ever since.
Through out that tumultuous ride, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has remained one of the most reliably sharp and funny comedies on television. Two things have governed its comedy stylings above all: Speed and sensitivity.
It’s a balancing act Goor says the writers have honed over time, but even the pilot’s tone is remarkably representative of the series overall. In his role as producer, Andy Samberg regularly provides pages of detailed notes that inform those lightning-fast edits and help the show stay empathetic when tackling serious issues with humor.
“We’re trying to figure out what Season 8 will look like and what New York will look like.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has gracefully tackled tough topics before, like the #MeToo movement in “He Said, She Said,” police violence in “Moo-Moo,” or Rosa’s ongoing journey of coming out as bisexual. Sometimes these stories take years to crack in a way that is both realistic and empathetic.
But with the Season 8 writers room now in session, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine team must figure out quickly if and how to address how COVID-19 has changed the world.
“We’re trying to figure out what Season 8 will look like and what New York will look like,” Goor tells Mashable. “Our guys are first responders in New York City, so it’s a very difficult quandary to figure out how to do it in a way that acknowledges this horrible pandemic, but doesn’t dwell on it — because we are conscious of the fact that people have really enjoyed escaping into the show.”
“But at the same time, it feels like if we completely ignore it then that’s weird, and then you’re going to stop relating to [the characters] as human beings who’ve gone through the same stuff you have.”
Before we get to Season 8, though, we have to welcome the Season 7 finale into this world. Most Brooklyn Nine-Nine seasons end on nail-biting cliffhangers, but Thursday’s finale granted us a reprieve at a time that’s tense enough without fiction adding to it. After a citywide blackout, Amy gives birth to healthy baby boy.
“We knew a few weeks before we finished writing the finale that we would have a Season 8, so as a result of that I think we didn’t feel pressure to have a an ‘uh-oh’ cliffhanger,” Goor reveals. “We’ve never ended a season where there’s just an up ending and it feels good. Even the wedding episode, which was Season 5, had Holt opening up the email of whether or not he was going to be the commissioner.”
But how will becoming parents change Jake and Amy’s relationship to the Nine-Nine?
“We’ve never ended a season where there’s just an up ending and it feels good.”
“We’re just gonna jump ahead nine years, the kid is a nine year old at boarding school,” Goor jokes. “No. We decided to make Amy pregnant in the first place after conversation I had with Melissa. She thought it’d be interesting for Amy to try to get pregnant because it’s a test you can’t study for, and that would drive Amy crazy and lead to a lot of comedy.”
We get a taste of that throughout the pregnancy, but Goor notes that Amy and Jake will likely have different parenting styles moving forward, generating more comedy and tension from their opposites-attract pairing than ever before.
“We’re conscious of the fact that it’s a workplace show and that they exist at the Nine-Nine, so it’ll be a balance. What does it mean to be a parent who’s working, who loves their job — both Jake and Amy are parents who fit that description. How do people balance work you’re passionate about with being a parent?”
“The kid” as Goor unconsciously refers to McClane, will certainly be an element of Season 8. Not to the point of overwhelming it, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine will not forget his existence for whole episodes, as some other shows have done with their baby storylines.
“You can imagine stories where Jake is on a stakeout or something and needs to go home to relieve Amy, but the bad guy shows up and then that means Amy has to ask Rosa to cover. You can imagine the machinations that would happen,” Goor says.
We can, but we’ll wait for the next season.
All seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine are streaming on Hulu and NBC.