This paper is taking the viewpoint that the popular t.v. show ‘Brookyln 99’ is written like contemporary Classical Mythology. I suggest reading the file for footnotes not end notes.
I have two papers that I think help explain how I can have this perspective of Jake if you are interested after.
Classical Mythology has been developing for thousands of years. Mythology, in itself as a genre, has had its themes continually passed down all the way into today’s popular culture. Barry Powell takes the time in his 8th edition of Classical Mythology to explain how Frodo is a classical hero in many ways in the Lord of The Rings series. The basic traits that are involved with having the title of a Hero all can be traced back to the prime example from The Epic of Gilgamesh. We must keep in mind that to the ancient Greeks, hero meant a protector. This is why they often get away with having negative characteristics so frequently and drastically. The characteristics in common folktale motifs are of: unusual birth circumstances, the Hero has great strength but can be a menace to his friends, the truest companion is another male, he falls under an enemy’s power and must perform impossible tasks to get out, hero breaks taboo that gets him into trouble, hero goes on a quest- even to the underworld (jail), may have help from gods, spirits or magical objects, the hero eventually accepts his own limitations and gets rewarded with something of great value- like the adoration from his people. Our lead character in Brooklyn 99 has Jake Peralta who is known to be written to have ADHD. Interestingly, this ‘disorder’ is now coming out in psychology to have had one of the largest impacts on our evolution in history.
Brooklyn 99 is currently one of the best comedy series out there with true progressive values lamented in the show. When I heard that Jake Peralta, the lead of the show was written to have ADHD I knew that I had to begin watching with another perspective in mind. It appears, whether intentionally or not, that they have begun writing a style of contemporary Classical Mythology with Jake as the Hero. To look back at the classic traits that heroes have in myth we can take a long look at the old King Gilgamesh. Barry B. Powell outlines these very well in his book Classical Mythology. The first season of this show seems to be focused around establishing Jake as one of these Heroes. This seems undeniable when two of the first main storylines were beating Amy, the other top detective in a bet regarding arrest numbers and the other about overcoming his new boss. Jake portrays a multitude of the traits that Gilgamesh defines in his tale; he is by far the best detective and proves this constantly throughout the show, Boyle – is his most true compandre because they have an unspeakable bond that others can’t even understand. Jake often gets himself into his worst trouble, including his best friends. Rosa Diaz, who has been with him from the police academy, trusts him on an undercover mission against a high ranking officer and it ends with them both in prison at the end of season 4. Not only this, Jake constantly breaks the social norms and completely gets away with it because of who he is. Often it does get him in trouble too, like when he ‘nearly divorced’ the marriage of his superior officer, Captain Holt. At the end of the day Jake is a hero and looked up to by everyone. They all have complete trust in him.
Charles Boyle is Jake’s best-friend throughout the entire show. The bond that Gilgamesh has with Enkidu is bringing him along on his dangerous quests and this is the same thing that happens between Charles and Jake. Interestingly as well- Charles main motivation in the show is always being in relationships with women and he openly discusses how he sees Jake as better than him, in nearly every way. Episode 9 of the series perfectly portrays the relationship that the two have between each other. Jake is overstepping his professional boundaries but Charles remains loyal to help him because in his belief of Jake. How much Charles adores and fawns over Jake is often seen as a joke; there’s a scene in this episode where Charles films Jake flying down a fireman’s pole and he even roleplays as a hero here. The humor comes when Boyle asks Jake to film him now and Jake completely rejects it without a thought and says ‘no time!’. How Charles reacts is simply by filming himself jump and slide a foot down the pole. The truth is, they didn’t have time, they were off to make an arrest. Given their relationship throughout the series, even up until this episode you can see that they both enjoy and enable this behavior. I’m certain Charles offered to go down and film Jake and he simply agreed because he knows how much Charles enjoys their unique relationship and he embraces it for his benefit. We know this considering how often Jake tells Charles how repulsive and intrusive his behavior can be.
A very important character trait established in the first six episodes of the series was Jake’s undying will to prove himself above his leaders. Leading up to the first Halloween special of their series, two episodes had been all about conflict between Jake and his new Captain, Raymond Holt. The fourth episode actually confronts this personality trait Jake has and revolves around Jake taking over control of cases when he doesn’t have the authority to do so. Episode five and six are both direct challenges to overcome two different superiors – and is considered the underdog both times, just to come out on top twice. Some may say this is up for debate against the Vulture episode because it ends with Jake giving up the arrest to him, but all he really is after in all of his cases is the truth. He won by not winning in this episode because the decision to give the Vulture the evidence for the arrest was one based on his moral principles. However, Captain Holt, his Humbaba, was the hardest challenge in the sixth episode. To even be able to engage in a bet with Holt over Halloween Jake had to give up plenty of risk to entice the Captain. Now, in Classical Mythology our heroes often overcome the beast with the help of gods. In our story here Jake has help from every member on his squad. What came from this bet for Jake, would be direct acknowledgement from the group’s leader that he was intellectually superior to Holt. The reason for this too was just to stubbornly annoy Holt. In the third episode Jake was convinced he was stricken by a curse of bad luck and Raymond Holt continually badgered him in an attempt to trick him. This definitely was a factor in why Jake would want to continually challenge the Captain until proven the dominant. And he truly does become at least an equal to Holt – in theory, because of how brilliant of a detective he is. Of course the episode ends winning the bet and the scene ends with Jake wearing a royal crown and cloak.
By episode 15 Jake’s hypothetical position at the top of the hierarchy is confirmed. His governing authorities don’t even stop to question him. In this episode it begins first with him overcoming the Vulture, who is a detective of a higher level that can take their criminal cases before they finish working on them. Jake gets a confession before he can take the case from him. The story-line becomes about the office working slowly when they need to be working quickly. They have all of their reports due for the next morning because the Captain wants them in the quarterly report. At a certain point, Terry the sergeant meets with Holt and suggests ‘CompStat’ing the workplace to increase efficiency. Holt, loves numbers and math so he instantly agrees. They begin to get carried away and Terry even warns Holt about going too far. He calls him Icarus, after the boy who freed himself just to then kill himself by taking things too far. When this began Jake was somewhere off with Amy working a case. After Terry and Holt have identified problem areas in their office and solved them, Jake returns completely ignorant of this. When he goes to sit at his desk Scully is sitting there. So Jake asks why but it’s not because he cares, it’s so that he can tell him where to go instead of his desk. This led to a scene where Scully accidentally starts a fire in the break room. Even after this, neither Terry or Holt do or say anything to Jake. In fact – all Holt has to say about the situation in private with Terry was “the problem is we didn’t take Peralta into account here, in our next trial.” What’s funny is Gina cuts his sentence off here and exposes what they were doing. Now, in the show Jake and Gina have been friends since they were children. It seems very obvious to me that Jake told Gina, who was being distracted by Holt and Terry what they were doing to the office. Then, she exposes it and makes the superiors look bad again. I bet even he did this simply because people with ADHD aren’t ones to like change in environments, similar to people with autism.
Jake’s relationship with his direct supervisor Terry is one that is truly interesting. In the pilot episode Captain Holt requests of Terry to tell him about the squad. When he is giving his descriptions he acknowledges Jake as his best detective but then at the end grieves “I’ve talked a lot about Jake in my departmentally mandated therapy sessions” with an upset tone. In season 2 they begin a very intimate personal relationship. The second episode is all about Jake attempting to prove to Terry they are more than work friends. Jake achieves this by helping Terry confront that he doesn’t truly want to have a vasectomy. This just leads into a further bond in episode 13; and it shows how egotistical Jake is. It turns out that Terry and his wife were now expecting another child. Concerned with money Terry second-hand mentions wanting his money back from Jake. This is where his ADHD plays in a supreme amount. It’s not just that he is upset about being confronted, like he says repeatedly that it just doesn’t make sense to him. So, the first thing he does? Gets curious and finds out why, and was the first to know Terry was expecting. Jake decides to pay Terry back all the money he can, but when doing so he ‘jokingly’ asks to be the godfather. In response he is told maybe if you can keep it a secret. Jake was unable to, he actually emailed everyone the secret by mistake. Jake did use his personality to convince everyone to not tell Terry and to avoid losing his position as potential future godfather. He ultimately failed when Captain Holt congratulated Terry and his wife and as it got exposed the Jeffers were quite upset. To continue this story we can jump to season 3, episode 8 ‘Ava’. Terry requests Jake to watch and take care of his very pregnant wife while he is at a prison interrogating someone. He agrees and weirdly talks about how he is Terry’s Wife’s now god-husband because she carries his god-child. Terry find this very strange out and tells him not to say these things. The story line for the episode is about Sharon giving labor in the precinct offices but what is highlighted is the relationship that grew between Terry and Jake. At the end of the episode Terry asks Jake to come in and be the first one to meet their new daughter and fully embraces the god-husband titles, without even knowing what they truly mean. Because he now understands Jake was just being his goofy self and meant nothing but love.
What Jake’s true role in the squad is to be consistent positive change. He is the most upbeat and outgoing character. Packed full of confidence. He constantly involves himself personally in people’s lives and is willing to be the main agitator in conversation. This is likely because of the psychological theory of ‘It Takes a Village to Treat ADHD’. The general concept behind this idea is that for someone with ADHD to survive they need to be exposed to as many different possible scenarios as they can be. We know Jake comes from a broken home and doesn’t seem to have friends outside of work. It’s definitely one of his coping mechanisms. One of the last episodes of the first season ‘Unsolvable’ is about Jake using his booked time off work, to stay and work on an old case with Terry. His experience in working with people as someone who is extremely talented he knows that he can have relationships with people through the job, so this is why he always is bringing these tough cases to his higher ups. There is an episode in season 3 about the ‘oolong slayer’ he tries to solve with his at the time ex-Captain Ray Holt. He in-fact invaded Holt’s personal marriage to such a level where it seemed the Captain now completely hated him. All it took to make it better though? Helping him catch the bad guy. The reason Jake consistently puts his nose in other people’s lives so personally is because he is beginning to desperately want new relationships. He was so confronted by the new boss at the beginning of the series that he actually started working with others and developing new relationships, because he was finally forced to. This is why Jake and Raymond have an unbreakable bond.
1. B. Powell Classical Mythology, Folktale Motifs in Heroic Myths 333-334
2. “The Squirrel Box” – Anne
3. Jonathan Williams, Eric Taylor, the Evolution of Hyperactivity
4. This scene is 18:20 in. This episode has been about Jake and Charles going against the fire department and investigating a certain pizza place that burnt down because Jake ‘just knew’ that the owner didn’t do it himself. They had to overstep a lot of boundaries and even got into a fight with the fire department in this episode. In the end however, Jake seems to solve it with the fire department’s chief and this is why he was allowed to go down on the pole, something that wouldn’t normally be allowed. It truly is a hilarious moment when Jake shrugs off Boyle’s want for a video but it’s likely that Boyle was just being his weird enthusiastic self. They really didn’t have time.
5. The first episode began with Terry telling Captain Holt that Jake was the best- but most troubled detective. So Ray Holt decides that the first thing he needs to change about this precinct now was changing Jake’s attitude. Nearly every scene between them for these 40 minutes is filled with tension and subtle anger. Jake, however, naturally does overcome because when confronted he simply wants to prove his worth and puts in much more effort than he was before without hesitation.
6. What Jake really cares about is just what is inside his own sphere. He had no real problem handing this evidence over because the system’s power structure forces him to do this all the time already. This is one of the times where the hero gets too caught up in his quest and causes harm to those around him. Jake gave up the evidence only after Terry (his direct superior) confronted him and made him feel less of a man for doing so, which is the last thing he would want.
7. Pediatrics Consultant Live
8. This episode is the ‘Wednesday Incident’. Captain Holt seems to be in an upset mood and everyone is blaming that on Jake, who doesn’t accept that he could have been the cause. When he tries to talk to Holt about it, he says, you’re not my husband, go away. This gives Jake the brilliant idea of getting Gina to help convince Holt’s husband to start looking into his life with them. They found that Raymond had been lying to his husband about his whereabouts, this tension leads Holt angrier than we really ever see.
“It Takes a Village to Treat ADHD: Community and Clinical Collaborations.” Pediatrics Consultant Live, October 6, 2009. https://www.pediatricsconsultantlive.com/childhood-obesity/it-takes-village-treat-adhd-community-and-clinical-collaborations.
Powell, Barry B. Classical Myth, 8 ed.(Wisconsin, Pearson, 2015) 333-334
“The Squirrel Box ” There Is an Amazing Adult ADHD Character on TV …” The Squirrel Box There is an amazing adult ADHD character on TV Comments. Accessed June 12, 2020. https://thesquirrelbox.com/there-is-an-amazing-adult-adhd-character-on-tv-jake-peralta/.
Williams, Jonathan, and Eric Taylor. “The Evolution of Hyperactivity, Impulsivity and Cognitive Diversity.” Journal of The Royal Society Interface 3, no. 8 (2005): 399–413. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2005.0102.
Watch the show: https://www.nbc.com/brooklyn-nine-nine