The saying goes, “It’s funny because it’s true.” This statement applies less to sitcom television than theatre or even film. Since there is less time to show and express the context behind a lot of the jokes on television, especially in the rapid, quippy world of single-camera comedy, there is often less nuance or wit involved in crafting the bits of humor.
The place where this saying does apply to the sped-up sitcom timing is with the characters. Usually, we laugh at certain remarks a character says or the actions they do because these elements are inherent to who they are. On Brooklyn Nine-Nine, any verbose articulation from Cpt. Holt is often good for a laugh. However, this is not because his excellent diction is authentic to the world of police captains. Since the series has built up his reputation as a very serious man with great expectations, his grandiose statements are funny because they are true to the character.
When you turn on an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for instance, you should expect certain attributes will come up when certain characters are onscreen. Boyle will be playfully absent-minded, Rosa tough as nails, Gina snarky and aloof, etc. While the series quickly formed these personalities at the start of season one, often the characters veer further from their initial identities. Sometimes, this is done to develop them in an interesting way. Other times, it just feels off when you watch that character react to a situation in a way that seems unreasonable.
Over the last two episodes, the uptight yet dependable Amy Santiago has looked almost unrecognizable. In “USPIS,” she tried to quell a smoking addictionthat she feared was making things worse with boyfriend Teddy. Since she was rarely seen smoking on the show before, her penchant for a hit every so often seemed far-fetched. However, her lack of togetherness was even more polarizing on “The Road Trip” this week.
Here, Amy’s interest in Teddy has subsided to the point that she is on the verge of breaking up with him. Of course, things escalate when Jake decides to surprise her by inviting Teddy to join the Brooklyn cops at an inn in upstate New York, the night before Amy and him have to transfer a prisoner. However, her actions in this episode, as she tries to evade the topic of her relationship with Teddy once he arrives upstate, were brazen and bewildering, bordering on the incomprehensible.
What made her breakdown so unfortunate is how the writers tried to create an uncomfortable situation for Amy by using attributes of her characters and embellishing them for a desired comedic effect. Amy is a perfectionist, so of course she would want a couple of hours to go and type up a break-up speech. She is a competitive woman, so of course she would scream out of panic to a woman she faces in ping-pong before dinner. She is a rule follower, so of course she yells at Jake for screwing up their prior reservation.