The show focuses on the relationships and mishaps of four detectives: the childish but effective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg); the OCD teacher's pet Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero); the exotic food and Jake-loving Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio); and the angry steampunk-dressing Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz). Together, they try to get through each day under the watchful eye of their robotic captain - Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher). The performances of the latter are undoubtedly one of the key reasons for the show’s success. Raymond Holt's straight-laced, emotionless and methodical style are in stark contrast to the "just wing-it" attitude of Peralta, and their dynamic has only grown stronger as the show has progressed. Braugher has won two Emmys for his performance as Holt and should have won more. His character has uttered some of the best dead-pan comedy lines in the history of sitcoms, and he is clearly the show’s most valuable comedic asset.
One of 99's greatest strengths is the prominence and importance of its side characters, namely Sgt. Jeffords (Terry Crews) and Gina Linetti (Chelsea Perreti). So often in sitcoms these types of characters serve a plot purpose and then disappear, but in Brooklyn they each have a much bigger role to play and are given the space for their personalities to shine through. Every character on the show feels important and contributes to what has to be the best comedy ensemble currently on American television. This is testiment to the skill of the writers.
Beyond the laughs the show has also been noted and praised for its portrayal of LGBT and Latino characters. From the off we are told that Holt has been refused a precinct command due to his race and sexuality - however, these facts do not define him and subsume his personality, as is the case with many commedies. The same can also be said of the two leading Latino characters Amy and Rosa, whose ethnicity is barely referenced. It is nice to see a sitcom that doesn't fall back on lazy stereotyping for cheap laughs or have someone's sexual identity become the totality of their character.
So, great performances, character dynamics and subtle but brilliant writing have been the keys to Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s five seasons of continual high quality comedy. With season six coming soon to Netflix, now is the chance to reward yourself by binging all 121 episodes of this laugh-track free piece of comedy gold.