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The Untold Truth Of Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Driven by its talented ensemble cast, the Golden Globe-winning "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" quickly made a name for itself as one of the funniest shows on TV ever since its debut in 2013. Led by "Saturday Night Live" veteran Andy Samberg as the "Die Hard"-loving Detective Jake Peralta, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is a workplace comedy about an NYPD precinct whose focus on fun somehow doesn't get in the way of getting things done (except in the case of Scully and Hitchcock). 

Samberg is joined by actors like Andre Braughter as the inscrutable Captain Raymond Holt, Melissa Fumero as the highly competitive and perfectionist Amy Santiago, and Chelsea Peretti as the narcissistic case study Gina Lenetti, among other favorite faces of comedy like Stephanie Diaz, Terry Crews, and Joe Truglio.

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" somehow mines goofy, silly humor out of both big-city law enforcement and kind, decent people that are good at their jobs. Here's a look into Brooklyn's finest fictional police precinct.

There was a bidding war for the show

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been a hit for Fox, but it was almost an NBC show. In 2012, production company Universal Television approached all four major broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox—and all four were quite interested. It ultimately came down to Fox and NBC, and producers signed with Fox, despite NBC being home to Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creator Michael Schur's previous creation, Parks and Recreation. 

What's especially surprising about the bidding war is that it went down in the summer of 2012—more than a year before Brooklyn Nine-Nine would ultimately premiere. Schur and co-creator Dan Goor (previously a staff writer for Parks and Recreation and The Daily Show) didn't yet have a pilot episode produced, cast, or even completely written. Their bona fides consisted of little more than Schur's reputation as the creator and showrunner of Parks and Recreation, along with the implication that the new show would be a lot like that one, only about a group of police officers instead of city employees.

Andy Samberg didn't want to do a TV show...at first

Also all-in on Brooklyn Nine-Nine because it was a Michael Schur creation: Andy Samberg. He'd appeared in a few movies since leaving Saturday Night Live in 2012 (Celeste and Jesse Forever, That's My Boy) and wasn't planning on jumping back into the rigorous schedule of a weekly TV series, but the pedigree of the show-in-progress made it hard to say no. While doing press before the premiere of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in 2013, he admitted he "was not looking to do a TV series at all, but I was a huge fan of Parks, and I saw what these guys had done with Amy [Poehler], who is basically my hero." Signing on so early also allowed him to be part of the casting process. Some of the actors who auditioned, including Melissa Fumero, were required to prove their comic chops by improvising with Samberg.

Jake was inspired by M*A*S*H

While the role of Jake Peralta seems tailor-made for Andy Samberg, creators Michael Schur and Dan Goor didn't have anyone in particular in mind when they conceived the character. Instead, they knew exactly how they wanted to character to be played: like Hawkeye Pierce, the wisecracking doctor Alan Alda portrayed on M*A*S*H from 1972 to 1983. While Hawkeye was a little cocky and cracked a lot of jokes, he was also a very skilled surgeon that genuinely cared about people. That's the vibe Goor and Schur wanted for Jake Peralta: an amiable guy who goofs off a lot, but who's actually an amazing cop. While searching for the right actor, they got word that Andy Samberg was willing to commit to a weekly TV series. The creators cleared the choice of Samberg with Fox executives, who immediately and enthusiastically told them to pursue the SNL star.

Neither Gina nor Rosa was originally part of the show

Gina is such an integral part of Brooklyn Nine-Nine that it's strange to think that the character wasn't initially a part of the show. Chelsea Peretti had written for Michael Schur's Parks and Recreation, but she really wanted to be in the cast of Schur's cop comedy—so when Schur and Goor learned Peretti was available, they created the character of Gina just for her. 

Rosa wasn't around in the earlier stages either. Stephanie Beatriz auditioned for the show, although for the part of Detective Amy Santiago (which went to Melissa Fumero), as well as for a character named Megan. Megan was renamed Rosa, and Beatriz got the gig.

The role of Terry Jeffords was written for Terry Crews

While some characters evolved from idea to screen, one who was part of the show from the beginning was the physically tough but emotionally sensitive Sergeant Terry Jeffords. Schur and Goor wrote the part specifically with Crews in mind—even naming him "Terry"—before they'd signed Crews to do the pilot. 

The writers have also taken moments from Crews' life and made them part of the show. For example, in the 2013 episode "M.E. Time," the regular police sketch artist falls ill, and Terry has to fill in. It just so happens that in real life, Crews is a very talented artist who, in the '80s, worked as a courtroom sketch artist in Flint, Michigan. When he was a pro football player, he sold his art to help pay the bills.

Stephanie Beatriz is legally blind

The same night in 2014 that Brooklyn Nine-Nine won the award for Best Television Series—Musical or Comedy in the middle of its first season, cast member Stephanie Beatriz (Det. Rosa Diaz) caused a minor stir by pairing her fancy evening gown with some large-framed eyeglasses. They weren't so much a sartorial choice as they were a necessity—Beatriz can't go without them. Literally—she's legally blind. She doesn't wear them on camera because glasses probably wouldn't suit the tough and proud Rosa, and contacts bother Beatriz's eyes. She's left with no choice but to act blind. She can't see much of anything going on in front of her on set.

Andy Samberg and Chelsea Peretti were friends as kids, but like Jake and Gina

The "Nine-Nine" is a tight-knit group, bound by strong friendships as much as the badge. Many of the cops have known each other for years, especially Detective Peralta (Andy Samberg) and civilian administrator Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti). Their characters are both from the same Brooklyn neighborhood and attended the same elementary school. This is couched in reality: The actors who play those characters grew up together, too. Samberg and Peretti attended the same San Francisco Bay Area elementary school and middle school in the 1980s and '90s. Peretti says that at one point she even had a crush on her future co-star.

Kwazy Cupcakes is real now

The 2014 episode "Tactical Village" includes a subplot about Gina and Captain Holt obsessing over an addictive smartphone game called Kwazy Cupcakes. It sounds like the name of a fictional smartphone game meant to make the audience think of something like Candy Crush, and that's exactly what it was—or at least it was at the time. Fox worked with RED Games to make that fake game real, and less than a year after "Tactical Village" aired, Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans were able to download a real-life version of Kwazy Cupcakes and get just as addicted as Captain Holt.

There are lots of Lonely Island references

During his seven years on Saturday Night Live, Samberg's biggest contributions were arguably his "SNL Digital Shorts." These pre-taped bits brought a new flavor and format to the show courtesy of the Lonely Island, the sketch troupe/rap group Samberg had formed years earlier with friends Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Schaffer and Taccone joined SNL as writers in 2005, the same time that Samberg joined the cast, and the trio took SNL into the viral age with frequently-shared videos like "Lazy Sunday," "Like a Boss," and "I'm On a Boat." 

Subtle references to those shorts occasionally pop up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. For example, Craig Robinson's recurring car thief character Doug Judy remarks that Samberg's character played somebody "like a boss." In another episode, Jake is messing around with a phone app that makes him sound like Auto-tuned singer/rapper T-Pain...who sang the hook on the Lonely Island's "I'm On a Boat."

The set is on Samberg's old stomping grounds

There are only so many studio lots in Hollywood, which means each one is rich with movie and TV history. For example, Brooklyn Nine-Nine shoots where the hit '90s ABC comedy Spin City once taped. This is extra significant for Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andy Samberg. One of his first jobs in showbiz was working as a production assistant on Spin City. Today, in roughly the same location, he's no longer a low-level gofer, but the star of his own network sitcom. "I went and got everybody's lunches every day," Samberg told the New York Times. "And now I have my own parking space."

It came back from the dead

The show's acclaim and accolades were never much reflected in terms of viewership. Brooklyn Nine-Nine never ranked higher than 98th place in the Nielsen ratings — and that was in its first season. Total average viewership ultimately dropped to under three million, so when Fox schedulers started putting together their lineup for the 2018-19 TV season, they canceled Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Other factors: a new programming strategy at Fox turning away from single-camera comedies (The Mick and The Last Man on Earth were also canceled) in favor of traditional sitcoms, including a revival of Last Man Standing. Fox also acquired the rights to Thursday Night Football, which meant fewer time slots for scripted shows.

But behind the scenes, Brooklyn Nine-Nine studio Universal TV was in talks with other outlets about a sixth season. According to Deadline, Hulu dropped out early, and TBS and Netflix were dead ends, but then, just over a day after its cancellation, NBC nabbed the series. Apparently, Bob Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment (a corporate sibling of Universal TV), never got over losing that bidding war. "Ever since we sold this show to Fox I've regretted letting it get away, and it's high time it came back to its rightful home," Greenblatt said, referring to co-creators Michael Schur and Dan Goor's time on Parks and Recreation, and Andy Samberg's roots on Saturday Night Live

How Brooklyn Nine-Nine got its fresh but familiar theme song

Almost every episode of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" starts in the same way: There's a cold opening with a self-contained, highly comedic sketch, which moves into the opening credits sequence that's punctuated with a jaunty, guitar and horn-driven fanfare. Many motifs in that tune reappear throughout the score of the series, which makes sense, since it's all written by composer Dan Marocco.

Since "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" riffs on and spoofs old cop shows, that's where Marocco took inspiration. "Musically, I started thinking of the jazz scores of '70s police shows that kind of defined the police genre," he told Meaww. "It definitely started with the horns, which the producers loved to give the instantly recognizable sound of a classic police show." 

To update the sound for a modern series, Marocco meshed together jazzy scores from '70s cop shows with '80s hip-hop like the Beastie Boys. "There are also a lot of references on the show to '90s music, so it definitely has a little bit of the best of the '70s, '80s, and '90s feel." Marocco ultimately recorded eight different version of the theme song, with the final track used being a mash-up of two of those submissions.

Art imitated life on Brooklyn Nine-Nine

The lines between reality and fiction often blurred on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," with writers freely incorporating elements of the actors' personalities and lives into the show. Goor and Schur brought in aspects of the real Terry Crews to the show, such as such as his talent for art — the former courtroom sketch artist illustrated a 2017 cover of Ad Age — and his healthy appetite for yogurt (via Page Six). 

Crews is also responsible for creating the show's catchphrase, the collective rallying cry of "NINE-NINE!" That was something Crews would shout out to get himself and his castmates pumped up before shooting a scene, co-star Melissa Fumero said on Twitter

According to BuzzFeed News, after Stephanie Beatriz came out as bisexual in 2017, the show's co-creator decided to make that identification part of the actor's character, Detective Rosa Diaz. "[Dan Goor] called me and said, 'Would you be open to us exploring a story where Rosa comes out as bisexual?'" Beatriz told Vulture. "And I was like, 'Absolutely. Yes.'"

Casting quirks of Brooklyn Nine-Nine

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" producers had a tough time casting some of the show's supporting roles. According to "Brooklyn Nine-Nine: The Podcast," the creators read Jason Mantzoukas, with whom they'd worked on "Parks and Recreation," for Detective Charles Boyle. Joe Lo Truglio got the part, while Mantzoukas later got a recurring role as chaotic private detective Adrian Pimento. 

On the same episode of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine: The Podcast," co-creator Dan Goor revealed that Marc Evan Jackson, who landed the recurring role of Captain Raymond Holt's stuffy classics professor husband Kevin Cozner, beat out some big names. David Hyde Pierce, best known for playing Niles on "Frasier," turned down the role, as did Victor Garber of "Alias."

Additionally, the spouses of four major cast members have popped up on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" in supporting roles. Beth Dover — married to Jo Lo Truglio — pops up in a Season 1 episode as a stationary store clerk where Boyle buys wedding invitations. David Fumero — husband of Melissa Fumero — portrayed Amy's celebrity crush, puzzle creator Vin, in a 2018 episode. Jenny, Hitchcock's jailhouse lover in a Season 5 episode, was played by Dirk Blocker's wife Danielle Aubuchon. And in the series finale, when Holt brings in musician Caroline Saint-Jacques Renard, she's played by harpist Joanna Newsom, the wife of Andy Samberg.

Names mean a lot on Brooklyn Nine-Nine

The creators and writers of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" went the extra mile to give characters names that work as Easter eggs, which reveal character details and some deep-cut references. The love story between detectives Amy Santiago and Jake Peralta slowly unfolds over many seasons, but the intent to put them together may have been apparent since the plot. "Amy" is a French name that means "beloved," while "Santiago" roughly translates to English as "of Jacob." 

So, put together, "Amy Santiago" means "beloved by Jacob," or, Jake. Meanwhile, Jake Peralta's last name comes from a Portuguese word meaning "naughty child," or "brat," a fitting description for early-"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" Jake.

According to a Reddit AMA with "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" co-creator Dan Goor, he and collaborator Michael Schur named the show's woefully incompetent detectives — Scully, Hitchcock, and Daniels (who disappeared after the pilot) after other creatives. "Scully, Hitchcock, and Daniels are named after three of Mike Schur and my writer heroes: Mike Scully, Norm Hiscock, and Greg Daniels," he said, referring to standout talents from "The Simpsons," "Parks and Recreation," and "The Office," respectively.

How Lin-Manuel Miranda got his role on Brooklyn Nine-Nine

In the first episode of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," it's mentioned that Detective Amy Santiago is the only female in a family with seven brothers, but only one is ever depicted over the course of the show. David Santiago figures heavily into a 2019 episode, portrayed by acclaimed "Hamilton" composer, lyricist, and star Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda entered the "Nine-Nine" less because he's a contemporary superstar and more because he's a vocal super-fan of the comedy series.

"He tweeted about the show back in Season 1, before 'Hamilton,'" "Nine-Nine" star Melissa Fumero told USA Today, adding that he got her a ticket to see "Hamilton" when it was in its pre-Broadway run. They met backstage, and before Fumero could heap praise on Miranda's performance, he launched into Amy Santiago's comical "power poses" from the 2015 "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" episode "Windbreaker City." 

When Fox canceled the series in May 2018, Miranda was one of the first and most famous people (via The A.V. Club) to unleash their fury online, tweeting, "RENEW BROOKLYN NINE NINE / I ONLY WATCH LIKE 4 THINGS / THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS." Producers reached out and cast Miranda as David Santiago a year later after his advocacy helped lead NBC to pick up the show after Fox dumped it.

Why Season 8 was so short

Following Fox's cancellation of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," NBC aired Season 6 and followed up with Season 7 in 2020, which was made up of a relatively short run of just 13 episodes (via Deadline). Although Season 8 — the final of the series — was a long-time coming, it was quickly unloaded. NBC aired all 10 episodes back-to-back over five consecutive weeks in the summer of 2021.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Season 8 was the smallest order ever for the series, but NBC also wanted to ensure that the long-running comedy's creatives and cast had ample time to craft a proper final season and definitive last episode — hence the delay of it airing so long after the end of Season 7.

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" co-creator Dan Goor took the truncated final season and NBC's encouragement to promote it properly as an opportunity to end the show on his own terms. "I'm so thankful to NBC and Universal Television for allowing us to give these characters and our fans the ending they deserve," Goor told The Hollywood Reporter.

Real-world events forced a soft reboot

That delay to get the eighth season right was both crucial and beneficial for the writers, producers, and cast of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." After the end of production on Season 7, which aired in 2020, serious world events forced the show to refocus and change its approach. 

After the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May 2020 (via CNN), and the worldwide protests (via NPR) against police brutality that resulted, it just wasn't possible or appropriate for the "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" team to make a comedy about police officers in the way to which they'd become accustomed.

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" was all set to begin filming in the summer of 2020 when co-creator and showrunner Dan Goor called a Zoom cast meeting. "We talked about what's happening in this country and we talked about the shift of consciousness going on," Terry Crews told Access Hollywood. "They had four episodes all ready to go, and they just threw them in the trash. It's like, 'We have to start over.'"

The contents of those four abandoned scripts remains unknown, but writers brought real-world police scrutiny into the series, introducing a villain in the form of Frank O'Sullivan, a hostile-to-change head of the police union, and Captain Holt and Detective Santiago working to institute sweeping reform and accountability in the NYPD, according to Vanity Fair.

There's a French-Canadian version of Brooklyn Nine-Nine

In August 2020, Canadian streaming service Club Illico released the first trailer for "Escouade 99" or "Squad 99," which is a Quebec-set, French-language adaptation of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." Melissa Fumero tweeted a link to the trailer, commenting, "This is like peeking through another dimension." Hours later, Fumero, a Latina actor, posted again by pointing out the lack of diversity on "Escouade 99," writing: "I'm suddenly curious about the Latina population in Quebec." 

She clarified via Twitter that while the Latina population in Quebec actually is small, "the Amy n Rosa roles could've gone to ANY BIPOC so it's disappointing to see that missed opportunity." Co-star and fellow Latina actor Stephanie Beatriz replied with a series of uncomfortable-faced emojis.

Fumero also took umbrage at how the Quebecois version Amy — known as Fanny in this series — had been sexualized: "Amy is not sexy ON PURPOSE. So that bums me out too." Nevertheless, "Escouade 99" was successful enough to warrant a second season, which streamed in 2022 (via IMDb).