“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is known for its broad comedy, not for tackling topical subject matter, yet the sitcom took an effective foray into the sensitive issue of the #MeToo movement experienced by one of the show’s characters.
During Thursday’s episode, an investigation into a case of alleged sexual harassment led Amy (Melissa Fumero) to make a confession to Jake (Andy Samberg) about her captain at a different precinct, and why it led her to the Nine-Nine.
“He helped me get on the detective track, and he gave me all the best cases,” she told Jake. “When I finally made detective, he took me out to dinner and tried to kiss me. He said he felt like he deserved something in return for my career.”
As Amy explained, she felt that reporting her captain would jeopardize everything she’d worked for, and instead put in a transfer to the Nine-Nine.
Fumero and co-star Stephanie Beatriz (who plays Det. Rosa Diaz and who also made her directorial debut with this episode) spoke with TV Line about the episode and the responsibility they felt to do it right.
“The topic of #MeToo is a difficult and complex [one], and I think having a female perspective — a female writer [Lang Fisher] and a female director — was necessary to create an environment where these actors felt like they were able to explore this topic in a really honest, sincere and still-funny way,” said Beatriz.
For Fumero, the episode exhumed some painful memories from her own past. “The episode brought up a lot for me and my own personal experiences, and of every woman that I know, which is really why this movement is so important,” she added. “Every woman shouldn’t have a story, [but] unfortunately they do.”
She admits that the episode led her to experience some mixed feelings. “The ‘actor’ part of me was excited… on an artistic and professional level,” she said. “Then as I mentioned before, that scene just brought up things so personal to me and the fact that pretty much every woman I know has a story so there was weight to that. It was a little daunting, thinking, We need to get this scene right, because this was one of those scenes where I read it on the page and instantly related to it.”
As Beatriz explained, adding this extra layer to Amy’s experience is also a way for fans of the show to know even more about the character, illustrating the simple fact that no matter how well we think we know someone, we probably don’t know everything.
“We’ve known this character now for five and a half seasons — we know her, we like her, we respect her and we think she’s amazing — and to hear her talk in this way gives you this whole other layer of what this person is about,” said Beatriz. “That was pivotal to the episode.”
Ultimately, Beatriz is “hopeful that [there will be] a continued conversation in people’s lives that are watching this show, whether it’s a family watching together, or it’s teenagers watching it on their phones and then talking about it on social media… If you haven’t had anyone close to you have an experience that can be defined with the #MeToo hashtag, now you have because you know Amy.”
Added Fumero: “My biggest hope for this episode is that people find more empathy for these stories, and realize that maybe they’ve been too quick to judge in the past. As Stephanie said, someone that they ‘know’ has had an experience.”