MONTREAL — Quebec's French-language adaptation of the popular American police comedy, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," is already taking heat before the first episode airs — from one of the actors in the original series.
Produced by ComediHa! and available on Videotron's Club illico, the show follows the comedic hijinks of a disorganized but effective police precinct and is a French-language version of the NBC show starring Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero, and Stephanie Beatriz.
But when Videotron released a trailer for "Escouade 99," one of the actors in the original U.S. show took issue with the lack of Hispanic representation in the Quebecois cast.
Fumero, a Latina actress who plays Detective Amy Santiago in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," tweeted that watching the trailer was like "peeking through another dimension."
But then she followed with another tweet lamenting how her character was played in the French-language version by a white actress. Another character on the U.S. version, Rosa, played by fellow Latina Beatriz, is also played by a white woman.
"Gotta (say) though after watching this ... I’m suddenly curious about the Latina population in Quebec. Just sayin," Fumero tweeted on Aug. 20.
Beatriz later responded to Fumero's tweet with a series of confused emojis.
On Aug. 21, Fumero tweeted about the Quebec series again.
"I’ve been thinking about this a lot," she said, "and it basically comes down to this ... while I understand the Latina population is (very) small in Quebec (& how many of them are funny actors?) the Amy n Rosa roles could’ve gone to ANY BIPOC so it’s disappointing to see that missed opportunity." The acronym she used refers to Black, Indigenous and people of colour.
"Escouade 99," however, fills the roles of the two main Black characters in the U.S. series with Black Quebecois actors.
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine," is known for being a progressive show with main characters who are racially diverse and LGBTQ+.
Talhi Briones, a Latina illustrator and novelist who moved to Quebec from Chile, drew a comic expressing her displeasure with the adaptation, while also questioning whether it will also keep Rosa's bisexuality.
Briones said on Twitter the decision to change the characters from Latina to white erases the fact there are Quebec Latinas.
"I'm really happy for the Black community that whitewashing a Black character is no longer acceptable," Briones said. "It's great for them. And they had to fight for that. So, Latinos, we're going to have to fight to stop being erased too."
"Escouade 99" premieres Sept. 17.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2020.
Julian McKenzie, The Canadian Press