Jake Peralta, the central character of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” is nothing you haven’t seen before. He’s the latest scion of a long line of male television and movie protagonists notable for their sophomoric behavior and stubborn refusal to act like anything that even vaguely resembles an adult. Characters like this (often surrounded by much more competent women who nevertheless seem to exist only to prop them up) are all too common these days.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and Character Development
Peralta breaks from the mold in one important way, though: during the critically-acclaimed freshman season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” his character was actually forced to develop. By the finale, he’s come a long way from the glorified man-child he started out as, though he’s still not entirely believable as a functional adult police detective.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” deserves a lot of credit for its fresh take on the tired old caricature that Peralta represents. It’s hard to imagine another show that could have given us an episode like “The Apartment,” in which Peralta loses his apartment thanks to his general negligence.
Bold Decisions in the Season Finale
The real testament to the unique perspective that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” brings to the character of Peralta, though, has to be in the season finale. Like many protagonists of his kind, Peralta struggled all season with his crush on a seemingly unattainable woman-in his case, his awkward but sexy fellow detective, Amy Santiago.
The first several episodes have him gently mocking her, unaware of his attraction in a way only a seven-year-old boy could conceivably be. Eventually, though, he realizes that he likes her as more than a friend, which is where I expected their relationship’s development to end. Instead, though, he takes well-reasoned advice from his friends and tells her how he feels in the season’s final episode, with the caveat that he isn’t expecting anything because he knows she has a boyfriend.
It’s a surprising move for a character who began as just one more ridiculously immature man on network television. More than that, though, it’s an admirable decision on the part of the writers, one that positions “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” head and shoulders above the bulk of today’s sitcoms. The willingness to move beyond tropes into substance is what makes this show great, and hopefully others in the entertainment business will learn from that.