There is an amazing adult ADHD character on TV …
… and it is *drumroll*:
Jake Peralta from Brooklyn Nine Nine!!!!
If this doesn’t surprise you, you’ve probably not just discovered Brooklyn 99, because someone on tumblr was talking about how Jake Peralta has ADHD. (Also, I totally didn’t just get sidetracked looking for those posts on that blog…). Since I started writing this post, like, last year, I’ve now seen all episodes of this amazing show, and am waiting for Jake Peralta’s ADHD to be made canon in season 5, along with the rest of you.
Seriously, since I’ve started (binge) watching Brooklyn 99, I can’t stop thinking about this (in other words, it’s my newest hyperfixation … Not currently true, after all, Black Panther came out in the mean time… but still).
Jake Peralta is an amazing character, in part thanks to Andy Samberg, who seems to have a real understanding of Jake. Jake Peralta shows tons of symptoms of adult ADHD throughout the show (I mean … I recommend watching this “Best of Jake” video, if you want proof), which is why so many of us seem to easily identify with him. He clearly meets the key diagnostic criteria: Jake is very obviously inattentive (“Jake, focus!”, but also stuff like the running man) and gets sidetracked a lot, hyperactive (“Ask him about his bank account!”) and lacks impulse control (six massage chairs??? as well as a ton of other examples). He’s obsessed with Die Hard (all four movies!), which looks a lot like what many of us experience in terms of hyperfixation (which is not a key symptom, but a symptom exclusive to ADHD, as far as I know).
Jake Peralta is very obviously coded as an ADHD character.
But also, Jake Peralta is really f-ing good at his job.
He could have easily been a super stereotypical “Hahaha, I’m so ADHD” character, annoying and obnoxious. But he isn’t. He’s successful, respected and well liked by the people around him. If the people who make these decisions (producers? writers? I have no idea…) decided to make Jake a canon ADHD character, he’d not only be pretty much the only verified adult ADHD character on television (Come on, guys! You can do it!), he’d also give us some much needed accurate and positive representation.
Aaaand, since there are just so, so, so many scenes in this show, that imply Jake Peralta has ADHD, I thought I’d just back my claim up real quick (sarcasm… writing this post took for-e-ver) and list as many as I can (with links instead of gifs/video, because page speed):
Jake Peralta ADHD moments, in no particular order:
- The way Jake is introduced in the pilot, the full scene can also be found in the “Best of Jake” video I linked to above.
- “Is this your locker or a garbage dump on the Phillipines?!”, aka Jake is messy as hell.
- “It’s real life Die Hard!!! … I mean: Oh no, crime…”, aka his hyperfixation with Die Hard, that outweighes more serious concerns.
- The breakfast burrito, aka gunny bears in a fruit rollup, aka Jake has the eating habits of a six-year-old, because he lacks impulse control.
- Jake solving the case in “The Box”, which was both hilarious and brilliant, and only possible because Jake thinks differently than Holt (seriously, go watch it! This is one of my favorite episodes of any TV series, of all times.)
- Jake is uncomforable with emotions, which might not, strictly speaking, be an ADHD symptom, but still seems to be ridiculously common among ADHD peops, because RSD.
- The show repeatedly refers to Jake’s poor dental hygiene, which is also common in ADHD people.
- He arguably doesn’t always have the best sense for what is appropriate office behavior, aka he’s lacking impulse control.
- “I’m doing the full bull-pen!” (as in, sock-sliding across the whole bull-pen), or, to quote a tumblr ask on PeraltADHD, “Impulse control who?”
- Also, “If I run and leap at Terry, …”, aka no impulse control whatsoever.
- Actually, I’m not sure Jake knows how to be an adult, at all.
- Jake getting distracted soooooooo much… I mean, sooo much, … seriously…
- The way Jake looks at Amy, which has nothing to do with his obvious ADHD, but I just love those two so much, and Andy Samberg has that look down perfectly. Also, we get to see an obviously ADHD character, in a working, healthy, happy relationship, which basically never happens (on television).
- Also, while we’re at it, the way Amy values Jake for who he is, even pointing out the way he thinks as something she loves about him, specifically. This is the best, most amazing representation of an ADHD relationship on TV. And I just love Peraltiago. I mean…
- The way Jake reacts to (percieved or real) rejection, which can definitely be seen as RSD coded. Which, kudos to Samberg for pulling that off.
- While Jake is a great detective (and that is never seriously questioned throughout the show, which is so validating!), he isn’t always great with planning the details, due to inattention.
- Jake is definitely not that great with the self-esteem at some times, which is super common in ADHD adults.
- Which also shows in the way he reacts to praise, especially from Holt.
- But also… Sometimes he might be a bit overconfident (just a tad, though).
- All the times Jake goes “I just figured it out!”, while doing something completely unrelated to the case… I mean, just tell me that’s not textbook ADHD stuff.
- Jumping on beds???
- And don’t try to tell me Jake isn’t completely distracted here.
- Why would he even bring a hoverboard to work??? Oh that’s right, no impulse control.
- Also, this exists.
- I also absolutely agree that Jake’s goldfish quote is hardcore ADHD… and sooooooo accurate.
Okay, so that’s a pretty long list, right? Except these are only the things I found gif or video for. There’s so much more throughout the show. And I actually tried (and failed) to write down all ADHD behaviors from Jake, while watching Brooklyn Nine Nine, so here’s that list:
- S01, E01:
- Jake in the electronics store. Not only did he solve the case in five minutes, which goes down to his brain being extremely fast, he also clearly displays lack of impulse control here.
- Old lady gunk. Inattention much?
- “I just got the tie thing.” 1. Timing, 2. His brain figured that out on the side, while making an arrest.
- “Humility over!”
- S01, E02:
- Jake is constantly late for work, which is typical ADHD behavior, he’s untidy, and he constantly makes mistakes/oversights (in German we say “Flüchtigkeitsfehler”, which kind of nails it) due to inattention.
- He also clearly struggles with accepting authority (the tie thing?), which is common in ADHD adults.
- Jake loves the puzzle part of his job, but struggles with properly doing his paperwork, because it’s boring/not important to solving the case.
- S01, E03:
- Here we see Jake’s lack of attention, which makes it hard for him to finish stuff.
- Clumsyness (which is also common in ADHD people… I have so many bruises, and no idea where they came from, because I bump into stuff so much I don’t even notice anymore): he bumps into Terry, destroying the princess castle.
- “I’m so bored!” “So bored, my brain rebooted” Like, helloooo? How is this not ADHD behaviour?
- S01, E05: The way Jake describes getting caught up in solving a case definitely sounds 100% like hyperfocus to me.
- S01, E06: Jake has awful handwriting, which is true for a lot of people, but also very common in ADHD peops.
- S01, E07:
- Jake impulsively arrests a guy without sufficient evidence.
- Jake wanting people to go home, because he can’t stand them being mad at him, because RSD.
- S01, E08: Holt talks about Jake getting distracted.
- S01, E10: Jake and Holt in the car. Jake’s a little bit impatient there, no? Or maybe it’s just his hyperactivity (probably, tbh).
- S01, E12: The dynamic between Jake and Doug Judy. Jake gets distracted/overly enthusiastic and screws up the case.
- S02, E12: “Holt has no pants on!” aka Jake notices stuff that nobody else does (and that is completely irrelevant).
- S03, E03: “Jesus made out of cigarrette buds.” “Jake, the case.” Classic inattention.
- S03, E16: The Jake Peralta emotional rollercoaster, which is so ADHD.
- S03, E17: Jake’s reaction when Holt calls him a bad employee looks a lot like RSD.
- S03, E23: “You and Charles???” Clearly not paying attention. Also, the look on his face for the second it took him to realize he got that wrong? RSD.
- S04, E01: Another example of Holt scolding Jake, and his reaction to it.
- S04, E03: I wrote down “Amy and Jake”, not sure what I meant by that… I’m guessing the dynamic between them, with Jake clearly being unsure of still being wanted?
- S04, E12: The running man.
- S04, E13: Jake spiralling (I swear I rewatched the episode this morning, but I can’t remember what he’s spiralling about for the life of me… thanks, brain). During Jake and Amy’s fake fight, you can also clearly see that Jake’s taking this agreed upon, fake rejection pretty hard, which is just another scene that illustrates his RSD.
- S05, E15: Jake’s jealousy here could be seen as a negative thing (and that’s clearly the way he sees it), but really, this is such a common reaction for an ADHD person. Because growing up, being constantly reminded that you should be smarter, better, less lazy, can do some serious damage. But also, Amy saying she loves the way Jake thinks, clearly confirms that the squad are aware his brain works differently, aka he is neurodivergent.
And this is in no way a complete list. There’s so much more (and if you have anything to add, please let me know, I’ll add it). So, with all these ADHD symptoms they keep showing us, it’s clear that Jake Peralta has ADHD, right? That just has to be a thing, right? I mean, he’s such great representation for all us ADHD adults out here, he just has to be canon ADHD, riiiight?
Sadly, so far, Jake’s ADHD isn’t canon. Which is kind of the point of this post. Because I’m not the only one who really, really, really wants that to happen. Now. (Because if B99 doesn’t get renewed for season 6, which I very much hope won’t happen, they’ll have missed a huge chance to do something amazing.)
As Jake isn’t portrayed to be obnoxious/annoying/incompetent, he’d make for way better representation than what we’re used to, by default. A lot of his behaviour can clearly be seen as ADHD symptoms. He talks a lot, particularly about things he’s interested in (hyperfocus/hyperfixation), he has trouble following orders (still not wearing a tie that often in season five…), he’s messy… as you can see from the list above, there are just so, so, so many. A lot of those are things people can easily see as ADHD symptoms. Negative stuff, ADHD is a disorder, after all.
So far so not that great, even though all these traits aren’t presented as super negative. But what we also get to see in Jake Peralta, are the less stereotypical ways in which ADHD impacts our lives. And the ADHD symptoms that make him a great detective. There’s the fact that his brain seems to be always working, going way faster than his colleagues’, and making connections that don’t come all that easily (like in “Unsolvable”, where he figures out what happened, like, what?). This is what makes him such a good cop. And this character trait is introduced from the very start of the series. In the pilot, Terry describes him to Holt as the best detective on the squad, but immature, and particularly highlights that he loves solving puzzles.
Jake Peralta is clearly valued and appreciated, and he is in no way an annoying character. Is there even any other TV show where we get that? I mean, as far as I know, there isn’t a single canon adult ADHD character on TV, but most that show ADHD symptoms are also portrayed as being kind of dumb, and annoying. Not fun to watch. And yet here we have this amazing character, with all his negative ADHD traits, but the show chooses to highlight and emphasize his good ADHD traits, and show Jake as a competent, capable, valuable member of a team.
Another thing about Jake Peralta that looks a lot like ADHD is his relationship with emotions and the way he handles rejection. Now, Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) is a relatively new term, but it’s something most of us with ADHD experience. It means that we take rejection, whether real or percieved, a lot harder than the average person. And it clearly shows in Jake. He is shown to be constantly looking for others’ approval, especially with Captain Holt. But also in his relationship with Amy. There are multiple scenes where he asks her: “Are you proud of me?” (for example) or something similar. It also shows in situations where he feels rejected, such as at the beginning of his relationship with Amy, or when Terry tells him he’s just a “work friend”. This is fascinating, because I feel like the credit for this goes largely to Samberg, for subtly communicating these reactions in Jake. There are lots of scenes with obvious ups and downs, emotionally (“It’s time to get these mice out of their hice. Gah, that was lame. Life is meaningless. We’re all going to die…. Mouses out of their houses! Yes, I am the greatest! Every breath is a gift! Sorry about the rollercoaster.”… I wish I could find a gif or video of this), but the moments where Samberg’s portrayal of Jake Peralta is most convinving, is when Jake is dealing with serious emotions (which, as we know, he isn’t particularly good at). I might be projecting here, but I feel like Samberg really gets what rejection means to Jake, and the way he acts it out is incredibly authentic.
Over all, Jake Peralta is a great, well-rounded character. He has good and bad character traits, shows tons of ADHD symptoms, but isn’t portrayed as the stereotype of an immature adult (Helloooo, Andy Dwyer…And Phil Dunphy). He has depth and is highly competent at his job, not despite, but because of his ADHD related character traits. Making his ADHD, that is clearly scripted into the very fabric of his character, canon by having him be diagnosed, would be a logical step for the show. Brooklyn Nine Nine isn’t exactely subtle about the social justice themes it picks up (Black Lives Matter, Rosa being Bi, Holt being gay, …), so giving representation to another highly underrepresented group would make a lot of sense. It would open up so much room to give accurate representation of what adult ADHD actually means. After all, the show leans so heavily on Jake being the way he is for it’s appeal (among other things, of course, but this is a big factor). By simply making him canon ADHD, and not treating it as a joke, they could do something nobody has ever done before.
So come on, Goor and Schur, you can do it!
P.S. If you have any feedback on readability or just the blog in general, I’d love to hear it!