What If ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Wasn’t About Cops? Here Are Some Other Ideas

     June 9, 2020

brooklyn-nine-nine-cast-sliceAs we examine the role of law enforcement in our society, especially how cops are depicted on television, the question of Brooklyn Nine-Nine has become a somewhat difficult one. A fan favorite that survived cancelation by Fox to relocate to NBC, the story of a sometimes-goofy New York police squad features an extremely inclusive cast and sensitive writing (the cast and executive producer Dan Goor even recently donated $100,000 to bail relief).

But now, people questioning the wisdom of framing so many stories with law enforcement as heroic figures, it’s little surprise that last week on Twitter, more than one person began floating the idea of “what if Brooklyn Nine-Nine next season was just set in a post office?” (The earliest Tweet I could find was from user @41cups on May 31, but the one that went viral was posted by @LouisiatheLast on June 3.)

https://twitter.com/LouisatheLast/status/1268216826024071171

It’s not as crazy an idea as one might think. For the show Parks and Recreation (also co-created by Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Michael Schur), the show’s setting actually had thematic significance to the series — Leslie Knope’s passion for local government and the good it can do was one of the show’s emotional cores. Over the years, Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Andre Braugher, Dirk Blocker, and Joel McKinnon Miller have evolved their characters into one of TV’s strongest ensemble and most versatile casts. But while many plotlines on Brooklyn Nine-Nine do involve police work, there are plenty of times when stories focus on characters’ home lives, relationships, and outside interests. Episodes like “Moo Moo,” in which the squad confronts police racism, are the exception rather than the rule.

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Image via NBC

At times, the show even seems to hang a lantern on this: in Season 4’s “Your Honor,” Rosa and Terry embark on a redecorating project. “Are we better at this than our regular jobs?” Rosa muses out loud, and Terry exclaims “Unquestionably! We should start our own home renovation show!”

It’s hard to imagine what, say, Law and Order: SVU would be about if the detectives suddenly stopped investigating sex crimes. It’s a lot easier to imagine a Brooklyn Nine-Nine where the precinct suddenly became, say, a northeastern Pennsylvania-based mid-size paper company. It wouldn’t even be the first time a comedy changed its premise — see also Archer wildly reinventing itself around the same time ISIS took on a different meaning. Thus, the Collider staff has brainstormed several options for where the show could go, in the hopefully-not-too-far-off future when TV production resumes and the already-greenlit Season 8 gets going.

Firefighters

This one is easy enough — almost a lateral move, except no riot gear and the potential for there to be an episode where Terry tries to rescue a kitten stuck in a tree.

Teachers at a High School

Holt’s the principal, Amy teaches math, and Hitchcock and Scully are subs who just play movies during class. This idea would be worth it for watching Jake try to inspire kids as the gym coach during the big game — which would also be when the inevitable A.P. Bio crossover happens.

Day Care Staff

Same idea as the above, but significantly aged down. To quote our own Haleigh Foutch, “surround Holt with chaotic toddlers.”

Guardian Angels

85 percent of this idea’s appeal is the mental image of Charles Boyle in Sons of Anarchy-esque gear, straddling a hog. Go with it.

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Image via FOX Broadcasting

Theme Park Employees

The future of theme parks, in general, is a shaky one these days, but the squad taking over the management of a small theme park has a lot of comedic potential. Bottle episode idea: Scully and Hitchcock get stuck in character costumes.

Veterinarian’s Office

Shifting to a medical procedural format would mean that the squad could still do Cases of the Week, they would just involve cute animals. (Yes, NBC did once try to launch a show set in a vet’s office, but Animal Practice failed to deliver on the possibility of Boyle versus a boa constrictor. )

A Bar

Everyone just starts hanging out in established watering hole Shaw’s Bar all the time. Collider’s Dave Trumbore even came up with the opening lines of the season premiere:

Everyone: Jake!
Holt: Jacob.

The Security Team at the Museum of Natural History

Plenty of hijinks you can get into while guarding dinosaur bones.

Department of Sanitation

Wait, this one could get really gross. Never mind.

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Image via FOX Broadcasting

Local Newspaper Reporters

It might be a dying concept, but that only makes the idea of Brooklyn Nine-Nine becoming a celebration of local journalism feel even more apt. Boyle could be the staff’s food critic, Jake could cover pop culture, Amy would relish fact-checking and copy-editing in addition to the crime beat, and Rosa’s relationship advice column would kick ass.

U.S. Department of Labor

It’s a different kind of enforcement, ensuring that workers’ rights are protected against corporate exploitation, but it also feels like a natural transition.

Dance School

This one’s a no-brainer, given how much dancing Brooklyn Nine-Nine has already showcased. Ideally, Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti) would return to share her own signature style with the students.

X-Men

A bit of a stretch. But this cast seems capable of anything.

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