It wasn’t too long ago that past guest star Bill Hader poked fun at Brooklyn Nine-Nine for its obvious inability to tackle greater issues at large. “Andy Samberg, looking forward to your new show Brooklyn 99,” he quipped at Comedy Central’s 2013 roast of James Franco. “Funny cops. You’re always pushing the envelope, Andy. What’s going to happen when you run out of funny crimes like graffiti and pickpockets? Can’t wait to see episode 10 when Brooklyn 99 has to deal with a rape. ‘Oh I dropped the rape kit. Sporgie Dorg!’” Let’s just say the writers of Fox’s cruelly underrated ensemble comedy called his bluff.
With “Moo Moo”, showrunners Dan Goor and Michael Schur tackle institutional racism without skipping a single beat. It’s a little like those old sitcom episodes that told a serious message in a funny story, only this message doesn’t feel shoehorned in. The whole story centers around Sergeant Terry and how he’s nearly arrested simply for walking around his own neighborhood as he searches for his daughter’s Moo Moo. The white cop who stops him eventually relents, but only when he learns Terry is also a cop. The whole situation takes another turn for the worst when Captain Holt insists that Terry not report it.
“That complaint could backfire,” Holt explains. “I don’t want to see your career derailed.” But Terry isn’t having it, arguing: “I wasn’t harassed for being a cop. I was harassed for being a black man.” Holt, who has also dealt with discrimination for being both black and gay, contends: “I’m not saying do nothing. I’m saying the most powerful action you can take is to rise through the ranks, so you can make large-scale changes.” Reading that doesn’t nearly do the scene justice, as actors Terry Crews and Andre Braugher respectively wire every word with aching pathos, but it should offer a convincing glimpse into the show’s weightier side — one that likely even shocked Hader. Some more crow, Captain Seth Dozerman? –Michael Roffman