Don’t panic, but Fox has not yet renewed Brooklyn Nine-Nine for a sixth season. Actually, maybe you should panic — because the kooky cop comedy is not only the funniest sitcom on broadcast TV (fight me, Good Place fans), it’s second only to Queer Eye as the most kind-hearted, humane show on any platform, period.
Fans of Brooklyn — which returns this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET — are used to sweating through this renewal anxiety every spring. But this year, things seem more dire for our heroes in the 99, as the show is pulling in around 1.8 million viewers on average this season — its lowest same-day audience ever. (With multi-platform viewing factored in, the average grows to 5.9 million.) It’s so painful to think that the show might not return, especially when season 5 has featured some of Brooklyn’s most hilariously absurd moments. Tim Meadows as Jake’s “cowardly cannibal” cellmate! The return of Holt’s gambling addiction (his tell is using contractions)! Charles getting shown up yet again by a horse named Sergeant Peanut Butter! And Sunday’s spring premiere features a sight gag involving three men and one square foot of carpet space that is too sublime to be spoiled. Plus, who can forget THIS?
And the feels! (Do the kids still say feels? Don’t answer that.) This season Jake proposed to Amy via a championship-wrestling belt, while Rosa came out to her parents as bisexual — something she’s known about herself since seventh grade. (You have not cried until you watch Rosa’s dad, played by guest star Danny Trejo, offer his daughter this wholehearted apology: “I want you to know that I accept you for who you are, and I love you very, very much.”)
There is so much to love about Brooklyn (why hasn’t Andre Braugher won an Emmy for his impeccably deadpan performance as Captain Holt?), but what makes the show feel more necessary than ever is that every episode, at its core, is about people helping each other. Though season 1 pit Andy Samberg’s goofball cop Jake against his stickler-for-rules new boss, Captain Holt, Brooklyn Nine-Nine — much like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation before it — went from good to great when the central characters left their sitcom squabbling behind and became friends. The best workplace comedies, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show on, are about the second families we form in the 9-to-5 trenches — and the cops in Brooklyn’s precinct love-hate each other in the way that only relatives can. (“You don’t have to sign your name on texts,” Jake types huffily to Holt in Sunday’s episode — and Holt’s reply is dad-perfect. “Dear Jake, suggestion noted. Sincerely, Raymond Holt.”)
And as it should be in a family, everyone — no matter how annoying — has something to contribute. Even Brooklyn‘s sedentary office buffoons Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) and Scully (Joel McKinnon Miller) have earned the precinct’s grudging respect with their unexpected abilities — like when they used their finely-honed dessert deduction skills to locate Holt’s stolen pie. (Spoiler alert: In the spring premiere, Hitchcock’s jigsaw puzzle savvy helps the gang rescue Jake and Holt.)
I have to believe, with New Girl on its way out, Fox has the wiggle room to keep Brooklyn on its roster. Yes, newcomers Ghosted and LA to Vegas are averaging around 1 million more viewers per week than Samberg’s comedy, but Brooklyn fans are devoted — and they will come back if (and when) the network’s new comedy experiments fail next season. Though its same-day ratings are down, the show still has street cred with younger viewers (do the kids still say “street cred”? Don’t answer that) — just ask 17-year-old Olympic gold medalist Red Gerard, who overslept on the morning of his event because he was up late binge-watching Brooklyn. (It also ranks in the top 20 among adults 18-34, and it’s top 10 with men 18-34.) Finally, let us never forget that we forgave Fox for Son of Zorn — so technically, they still owe us one.