This article contains frank discussion of Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 5, Episode 22 “Jake & Amy.” If youd prefer not to be spoiled, now is the time to leave.
When Brooklyn Nine-Nine super couple Jake Perralta (Andy Samberg) and Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) finally walked down the aisle in Sunday nights finale, fans of the shows co-creator, Michael Schur, may have gotten a jolt of déjà vu. Their wedding day plans thrown into chaos by forces outside of their control, Jake and Amy enlist their their friends (who also happen to be their co-workers) to help with various elements of the ceremony. When all those plans also go awry, the duo still manage to finish the episode by getting hitched in their shared workplace. Despite the last-minute wedding dress, the impromptu decorations, and the unconventional vows, “Jake & Amy” delivers an enviable dream TV wedding. The episode also happens to be a near carbon copy for Michael Schurs incredibly beloved 2013 Parks and Recreation wedding episode “Leslie and Ben.” The similarities are so clear (and the episode titles such obvious mirrors) that the parallels here cant be unintentional. But if Schur wants to deliver the same heartwarming love story over and over again with only slight variations, his fans likely wont mind because he may be the only TV creator (along with collaborators Greg Daniels and Dan Goor) who knows how to write the kind of realistic-yet-aspirational love stories our divided country needs right now.
Pay close enough attention to the Schur-verse—which in addition to Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks and Recreation also includes The Office and The Good Place—and youll see repeating patterns everywhere. All four shows started with broad, hard-to-love protagonists played by likable actors Samberg, Steve Carrell, Amy Poehler, and Kristin Bell before softening the edges and finding passionately devoted (if small) audiences who tune in weekly for a dose of feel-good comedy.
There are repeating character types across all Schur shows like the lovable dummies (Chris Pratts Andy or Manny Jacintos Jason) the type-A overachievers (Poehlers Leslie, Fumeros Amy, or William Fitzgerald Harpers Chidi) or father figure bosses (Nick Offermans Ron Swanson or Andre Braughers Captain Holt). But the most cohesive similarities across all these shows is an unwavering acceptance for what makes flawed, passionate humans still loving and worthy of love. Its the gooey core at the center of Schurs sharp wit and makes his the rare Will They/Wont They relationships that continue to grow past the I Dos.
TV history is littered with the corpses of shows that couldnt survive once the central couple got together. Moonlighting is the most common example of a massively popular show that fizzled once Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd acted on their addictive, combative chemistry. Schur is as comfortable as anyone in that pre-consummation Moonlighting space having helped craft two of TVs sweetest Will They/Wont They storylines around both The Offices Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Parks Leslie and Ben. (Schur has writing credit on perhaps the most romantic Jim and Pam storyline which involved a teapot, a Secret Santa, and an undelivered letter.)
But while Schur knows his way around the first stages of a TV show romance, he breaks with tradition when it comes to what happens next. So many shows, hoping to recapture the watchable tension of a Will They/Wont They, throw up false-feeling obstacles or hard-to-believe acts of infidelity in order to bust up couples that are clearly meant to be. For example, some time after Schur stopped receiving full writing credit on episodes of The Office—he was busy launching Parks and Recreation—the show made the mistake of driving a wedge between Jim and Pam in its final season. Thats not to say real couples dont go through tumult, but the character assassination of Jim Halpert in the pursuit of high-stakes drama caused a beloved show to end on a sour note.
No such trauma ever touched Leslie and Bens marriage and it feels unlikely that anything like it would befall Amy and Jake. These two couples not only share similar weddings days (and, if you think about it, surprise marriage proposals as part of a larger misdirected plot), but also a similar affection and mutual respect that sustains beyond mere chemistry. Ben and Leslies famous wedding vows say it all: these people love and like each other.
The same is true of Jake and Amy who have profound appreciation for each others foibles like his juvenile frat boy humor and her obsessive need for organization and control. The message, then, from these Schur romances is not that youll find love if you perfect yourself in pursuit of it, but that theres a lid for every strange pot. (Yes even the April Ludgates, Charles Boyles, and, hopefully, Good Janets of the world.) Be yourself, Schur shows seem to say, you are worthy of love.
This approach to romantic storytelling flies in the face of Hollywood convention which dictates that passion, tension, drama, betrayal, sex, and heat are the only subjects worthy of fascination. Schurs interest in another, more lasting kind of love spills out beyond the central Will They/Wont They relationships of his shows and manifests as writerly affection for the assorted oddballs that populate his galaxy of shows. These Schur co-workers (or whatever you want to call the core Good Place cast) truly love and elevate each other. Theyre family sitcoms masquerading as workplace comedies but without any of the alienating baggage.
Schurs unshakable respect and affection for his various characters occasionally gets misinterpreted as some kind of overt or performative diversity. As if Brooklyn Nine-Nine is an brazenly liberal response to shows like Roseanne or Last Man Standing. Yes, Schur shows deserve credit for both inclusive casting and gay and bisexual characters who actually get to be sexual and romantic figures. But Schur also created TVs most famous libertarian in Ron Swanson. In other words, Schurs universe where everyone belongs and deserves a soulmate may be some kind of utopian Good Place (now available exclusively on NBC), but isnt that exactly the kind of happy ending we could all use right now?
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