[Editor’s Note: Spoilers for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” Season 5, Episode 10, “Game Night” follow.]
The Fox comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” for reasons made obvious by its title, chose to celebrate its 99th episode last week, putting the spotlight on each character during a crazy road trip from Los Angeles to New York. But it also included a big reveal that became a central part of the show’s 100th episode, “Game Night” — Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz), the show’s resident badass, coming out as bisexual.
Rosa’s coming-out, showrunner Dan Goor told IndieWire, was a story choice made in close discussion with Beatriz this season. “In a way, after Stephanie came out, and has really in so many ways become such an LGBT advocate, we felt like it was really a meaningful opportunity for the character, and it definitely felt in-world for the character. It didn’t feel like, you know, we didn’t feel like people would be like, ‘What?!’ You know, and 100 episodes in it feels like a good, cool, juicy story-turn and character development,” he said.
Beatriz, a “Nine-Nine” series regular from the beginning whose feature roles have included indie favorites like “Short Term 12” and “The Light of the Moon,” came out as bisexual in 2016. “We had a lot of conversations with Stephanie about what she wanted to say, and what her experience was,” Goor said. “She was very intimately involved in the breaking of the story, and what the character said, and what the other characters said to her, so that it felt grounded and real.”
While Rosa first only tells Boyle about her sexuality in “99,” in “Game Night,” Rosa first comes out to the rest of the squad, then — with great difficulty — to her parents Julia and Oscar (played by Olga Merediz and Danny Trejo).
Key to those scenes was the fact that Rosa came out not as gay, but as bisexual, which means she’s equally attracted to both women and men — a concept that some people struggle to understand, as we see with Rosa’s mother and father. “There have been some coming-out stories on television, obviously, and it felt interesting and different to do this specific coming-out story because there haven’t been as many bisexual coming-out stories, I think. And that it’s a specific thing, that it’s a different thing, and that was interesting.”
In “Game Night,” her parents don’t take the news well, and at the end of the episode, only Oscar makes the effort to tell her he accepts and loves her. “That was another thing in conversation with Stephanie — it was a really purposeful decision to make it the father. Often, it is one parent and not both parents, and in this case, it’s interesting that it’s the father,” he said.
This comes with the additional weight of Trejo’s casting as Rosa’s father, given the veteran actor’s legacy of playing badasses on screen, something that made him a perfect fit for the role, while also giving one of the episode’s final scenes some true poignancy.
“She’s so like the father,” Goor said. “I think there’s so much about her that’s like what we see of Danny Trejo, so I think there’s something nice that that character comes around, and is accepting. Also, again, just from a writing perspective, seeing Danny Trejo, who is the paradigm of tough, melt and accept, and hug his daughter. It’s such a nice visual image.”
“Every time I see that scene I tear up,” he added.
In addition to creating an important moment for the character, Goor said that “I think it was a story we were interested in telling, and a story that felt true to the character. Then, as writers, I think it also just felt like we have so many characters who are paired up, this feels like it really opens up the dating world. It’ll be interesting to meet Rosa’s girlfriends, it’ll be interesting to meet her boyfriends. Like, it just felt like such a boon as a writer and a no-brainer.”
It’s also not a storyline that’s over by any means, especially given how things were left with Rosa’s mother. “That was our intention,” Goor said of the decision to leave things somewhat unresolved. “Last year we did an episode, ‘Moo Moo,’ which was about racial profiling. One of the important things for us there was that we didn’t tie it up with a bow, and I think we felt like the most relatable, and important, message is that it’s not easy, and it doesn’t wrap up with a bow. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.”
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” airs Tuesdays on Fox. The show enters syndication on TBS in January 2018.