Brooklyn Nine-Nine Explains Why Millennials Have Difficulties “Adulting”
Jake: So, I’m going to grab a healthy breakfast.
Captain Holt: Are those gummy bears wrapped in a fruit roll-up?
Jake: Breakfast burrito, but yeah.
Captain Holt: I pity your dentist.
Jake: Joke’s on you. I don’t have a dentist.
I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had a similar exchange with my boss several months ago over my breakfast of Pop Tarts. Also, I haven’t been to the dentist in a year…or two.
Jake Perralta and I, both Millennials, spend our time attempting to carve out a place for ourselves — financially, physically, relationally — and trying to re-live those precious few moments of pure childhood (hence the candy and poptarts, which somehow connect to our emotions?).
Though older generations will try to tell you that we Millennials are lazy, irresponsible, and entitled, I’d like to point out that nearly all the Millennials I know and read about and watch are exactly the opposite. We work full-and-part-time jobs to make ends meet; we received too much responsibility early on and now have to deal with stress and anxiety disorders because of it; and we’re barely staying above water in an effort to survive. Just because we try to relax with a video game or eat unhealthy food because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean we’re destroying the economy or “life as we know it.”
That happened before we had any say in the matter.
Which is why shows like Brooklyn Nine Nine are important. Comedy is often the best vehicle for truth, allowing us to laugh rather than cry, providing a cushion or coping mechanism for the harsh reality of life. Andy Samberg’s Jake Perralta, Melissa Fumero’s Amy Santiago, and Stephanie Beatriz’s Rosa Diaz each display a facet of the Millennial makeup, providing us with a mirror into our own psyches.
Brooklyn Nine Nine not only highlights the problems facing Millennials, it is inclusive, not only in sex, race, and orientation, but also in age. There are Millennials, X-ers and Baby Boomers, all co-existing (sometimes peacefully) in an environment that breeds hilarity. We get to look at each other and ourselves with a dollop of humor and compassion.
This is evident in episodes like “The Party,” where Terry Crews’s character Sergeant Jeffords preps the crew (including Millennials Jake, Amy, and Rosa) before the rare privilege of attending their Captain’s birthday party.
While the precinct is full of wacky characters, we see the fear and apprehension in the eyes of the youngest members of the team. They are expected to wear something nice (do they have anything from the thrift store that can work?), bring a gift (can they afford it?), and talk about things they have little experience in – like upper-class culture.
When they arrive with the same bottle of $8 wine, dressed in their very (plain) best, with no idea what to say, the pain is evident. It’s more than being introverted: It’s the fear that once again, they are stepping into a world created by older people and there is no place for them.
Maybe this has always been a problem. Maybe each generation forgets what it is like to be young and eager, only to be browbeaten by a world that ridicules your youth. Maybe they forget that they too were once hungry, anxious about the future, and unable to make ends meet. Maybe, too, the people who raise us forget that the world we’ve grown up in is different from the one they knew.
Brooklyn Nine Nine’s exploration of the plight of the Millennial is intriguing, and at times, heartbreaking. How can we navigate a world that’s constantly changing, getting ever more removed from our parents’ world? How can we connect with them when everything is vastly different? And how will we remain in touch with our youth when our children come along? Will we treat them the same way we were treated?
Recognizing a cycle is the first step toward breaking it, and if Jake, Amy, and Rosa’s character arcs are any indication, there’s hope for the rest of us that we don’t have to be like the older generations. We can, in fact, be who we really are, and be proud of that.
We should probably schedule a check-up with the dentist though – as soon as we can afford it.