On Wednesday, Sarah wrote about Emma Thompson’s open letter and how her decision to quit Luck because of John Lasseter was privileged because she had the means and the resources to support herself and find work afterward. It was, however, an important step because by being the first person to publicly challenge Lasseter after he basically walked into another C-suite job, she set a precedent and sent a message to the world– this sh-t shouldn’t and won’t be tolerated.
Yesterday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s episode was about sexual harassment in the workplace. Jake and Amy work with a woman who literally breaks her boss’s penis when he tries to assault her. It’s the kind of energy I’m looking for in 2019. Most of the episode dives deep into the nuances of the #MeToo and Times Up movements. A pivotal moment in the show is when the survivor has to decide either to continue pursuing charges against her abuser or sign an NDA and take a large sum of money. Amy convinces her not to take the money but is criticized by Rosa who points out that by pursuing allegations, her career and financial stability will probably be lost. It’s the Catch 22 of many women find themselves in, like those at Skydance with John Lasseter.
Media and entertainment have the power to shift opinions and educate the public en masse. One of the reasons I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine so much is because it doesn’t shy away from serious, contemporary issues. One of my all-time favourite episodes is the one that deals with the subject of police prejudice against people of colour. Rather than addressing the matter in a clunky, heavy-handed manner, the writers manage to weave in complex and layered issues. In the race episode, Terry and Holt argue about the merits of keeping quiet with the goal of rising in the ranks to make change in lieu of actually reporting the incident. It’s an amazing commentary on the constant struggle that people of colour deal with every day.
Most shows would struggle to transition from the serious primary plot to a comedic secondary plot, but not B99, because of the way the show was set up from the start. Comedy in Brooklyn Nine-Nine is never based on demeaning other people, which is why standing alongside a sexual assault storyline, it doesn’t seem in poor taste or disjointed. The trickiest character in the episode is Jake. Having a straight, white, male character be central to a narrative about sexual assault is tough. But Samberg walks that line expertly, using the awkwardness of his character’s presence and ignorance to evoke some humour. At the right times, Jake is incredibly supportive and understanding. He demonstrates that you can still be part of the movement by listening and supporting the women around you while educating yourself in the process. Jake Peralta is definitely a non-problematic fav.
The episode was directed by Stephanie Beatriz who plays Rosa. The episode was already really good, but this enhances it even further. I think it’s empowering and wise that the show chose a bisexual woman of colour to direct. Stephanie brings a lot of perspective and experience, which is a major reason why the episode was so authentic and balanced. She is a talented director, but more importantly, she was given the opportunity to show that to the world. B99 is an example of how production in the modern era should look like. The show was renewed for Season 7 this week, a testament to how diverse casting, intelligent and relevant script writing, and female empowerment are marketable and desired. Take notes everyone!