Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “The Party”
B+

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: “The Party”

B+

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

"The Party" 

Season 1, Episode 16

Holt’s husband emerges from the mysterious ether of sitcom land that still has Vera Peterson and Bob Sacamano in its dastardly clutches. As it turns out, Kevin Cozner is not the funny one in the relationship.

“The Party” brings the cops out of the precinct and away from crime-solving—to a place where cop talk is strictly forbidden—and throws them into a different kind of New York, filled with professorial types who write books about paleolithic salads (don’t forget to lean in to the dirt). It’s Holt’s birthday and his husband, Kevin (Marc Evan Jackson, playing similarly to his Parks and Recreation character), has (begrudgingly, as we learn later) invited the entire precinct over to Holt’s house to celebrate. Like Peter Sellers in the episode’s namesake movie, the precinct are fish out of water, although Terry is around to play dad to keep everyone in check.

If “The Party” does one thing, it’s demonstrate how monumentally confident Brooklyn Nine-Nine is in its short run, especially when it comes to its ensemble. This is an episode that’s completely based on fully-formed characterization (Terry’s love of the French New Wave will never die!), rather than plot. In fact, there’s little plot to propel the narrative here, other than the world expansion via Kevin’s introduction. Seriously, Peralta spends most of the episode looking for a magazine. This is not thrilling stuff. But that's okay. Terry gives the precinct as a whole rules for adult parties—no shorts, not even the kind that Jen Aniston would wear—but has to quickly revise them when he figures out that simply dictating the need to bring a bottle of wine won’t do. Boyle is told to stick to food-talk (and umami make-out sessions with Marilu Henner), Diaz babysits Gina so she doesn’t say anything insane or steal something (too late), and Peralta gets Hitchcocked into silence (not happening). Everything works so well because these characters have been established to the point where it’s inevitable that they will disobey Terry and do nearly the exact opposite of what he says.

“The Party” is one of the first episodes where Peralta feels like he is part of the ensemble, rather than the star. He doesn’t get his own plot, sequestered away from everyone else. He buys the same cheap wine—from the finest vineyard in Arkansas, no less—that everyone else does. In “The Party,” he is one with the rest of the cast. Still, Peralta gets more screen time; his quest for the New Yorker takes up more time than everyone else’s dalliances. Yet, everyone gets their turn. Watching Gina’s full-on narcissism dazzle the Columbia psych department is a particular delight. This is where Gina shines. She might be the most one-note character of them all, but few can answer the question of what’s on her mind with “How I would make the perfect American president based on my skill set, dance ability, and blood lust,” like Chelsea Peretti can.

What’s interesting to me about this episode is that not one subsection of the party ever gets talked down to. A similar niceness pervades Parks And Recreation, as well, as has been discussed in previous recaps. The professors aren’t viewed as elitist snobs, while the laughs that derive from the precinct’s failures are based on their well-established characters, rather than simply slovenliness in the face of a different class. Kevin has a reason for never allowing cop talk in his house and shunning the friendship of his husband’s colleagues: For decades, he watched Holt get treated as less than by cops who look just like Peralta. As he says, he may be married to a cop, but he certainly doesn’t have to like the rest of the breed. Making Kevin the unfunny half of the marriage is an interesting character choice, and it’s almost surprising how dry Kevin is, when he could have been some screaming queen to counteract Holt’s own personality. Kev, instead, is just a nice guy looking out for the man he loves, even if he does pull the occasional prank. Raymond can’t always be the funny one after all.

Stray observations:

  • Did you read Erik Adam’s piece on the possibilities of greatness in Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Well, you certainly should.
  • “Ooo, self-burn. Those are rare.”
  • “Now break it up. We look weird... Don't move as a group! You’re not gazelles!” “Stop eating crab wrong.”
  • “Gina has brought back all the silverware that she stole from your house.” “Also this clock.” ”This isn't ours.”

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