Every movie, television show, or other form of story entertainment seeks to maintain three concepts: coherence, continuity, and credibility. The story must progress logically and stay consistent with previous installations to be believable. Hamilton and Brooklyn 99 are excellent examples of a show maintaining its authenticity despite fictional settings.
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One of the most lauded songs in the record-breaking musical Hamilton repertoire is “What I’d Miss” in act two. Jefferson missed the war and has now arrived back in the U.S. to be Secretary of State. Instead of the stoic Founding Father we all imagine, he struts on stage in a pink velvet waistcoat and rakishly sings about all the ladies he met in Paris. This establishes the character’s credibility as a real human being with flaws. Jefferson sings jazz as opposed to the revolutionaries’ rap. Slaves run around him, and the phrase “what I’d miss” becomes a double-entendre to showcase his blindness to the slaves’ circumstances. At one point, he instructs Sally, his enslaved lover, to fetch him a letter. A black actor delivers these lines in jazz, but the details are historically accurate to Jefferson’s life. These nuances tell a coherent story about Jefferson that remains continuous with the musical’s format: his ideals of liberty are hypocritical, and he is indifferent to the American struggle for freedom.
Brooklyn 99 is a police procedural sitcom that recently wrapped up its series finale. The show struggled to remain authentic regarding the current political climate and wrapping up all the characters’ arcs in a satisfying yet coherent way. The eighth season managed to establish credibility as a show conscious of the current political reality of #BlackLivesMatter protests and outcries against police brutality (Donoughue, 2021). The characters do not exist in a vacuum, and Captain Holt institutes police-wide reform to improve equality. Detective Jake is disappointed by the shortcomings of the system and leaves the force to raise his child. Furthermore, instead of falling prey to Hollywood tropes, wherein everyone is shoehorned into a last-minute romantic resolution, the character of Rosa loudly proclaims that she doesn’t want to “settle down” (Miller, 2021). Brooklyn 99 gives its characters a happy ending coherent and continuous with their previous arcs and the story format, thus establishing credibility.
In conclusion, both Hamilton and Brooklyn 99 became cultural icons because they maintained human authenticity in an artificial format. The key to believability and artistic catharsis is coherence, continuity, and credibility.
Miller, L.S. (2021). How the last episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine subverted the worst series finale trope. Collider.
Donoghue, P. (2021). Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s season eight finale caps off a lovable show with a complicated heart. ABC News.