Often men in media are portrayed as macho statues with minimal emotion, unless it’s toward sports. Think Ron Swanson, Tony Stark–those Manly Men who refuse to feel emotion, therefore are strong, masculine, and admirable. Masculinity being tied to lack of emotion has been a stereotype for a long time, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Jake Peralta refuses to be a caricature.
I wanted to talk a little about how he deals with his emotions and stressful situations.
In the first episode of the second season, he retracts his previous romantic confession to Amy Santiago upon learning that her relationship status has been affected by it. He lies, because he feels vulnerable, and doesn’t want her to see that. Later on, he retract his retraction, revealing that he really actually meant it.
In the sixteenth episode of the first season, he finds out that his captain’s husband, Kevin, doesn’t like cops because they are a big reason the love of his life has been oppressed and denied opportunities just because he is black and gay. Kevin draws a connection between these cops and Jake. Jake is uncomfortable with this and asks, “(Are they) devastatingly handsome (as well)?” Then he follows up with, “I’m sorry I’m uncomfortable with emotions.”
Similar to Kevin, I was initially suspicious of Jake, because my experience with white straight male leads in a stereotypically masculine and powerful position (cop) has not been the best. This kind of guy is usually racist, misogynist, casually homophobic, and just overall unpleasant. I think a lot of people actually share this opinion, because I’ve heard similar thoughts.
However, Jake has proven himself more than that. He is obviously not homophobic. A great episode (s1 e8) “Old School” has him meeting his idol Jimmy Brogan who wrote the book that inspired him to be a cop. Jake tries his best to prove himself to Brogan, who is actually a lazy self-proclaimed “old school” conservative man. Brogan makes a homophobic remark about Jake’s captain and Jake punches his idol right then and there.
He is also a feminist. He respects Amy Santiago being in a committed relationship, even though it makes him sad. He doesn’t ever force himself in between her and her boyfriend, and furthermore, he has complex platonic relationships with many female characters.
In fact, I know for a fact that he eventually calls out transphobia. Jake Peralta proves to be the opposite of what I expect from characters like him and I look forward to seeing more of that.
P.S. I’m currently on season 2 and I don’t mind spoilers but if I missed anything that’s probably why