Show: NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Featured Characters: Amy Santiago and Jake Peralta
The best relationships are the ones you can sniff out from miles away (or when the characters cannot stand each other at first). A good old-fashioned “enemies to friends to lovers” with an added bonus of a “workplace romance.” I watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine from the Pilot and apart from showcasing the remarkable trajectory this team would embark on, the episode made it clear that Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago were meant for each other. (Or maybe it didn’t and I know my type so I jumped headfirst and never looked back.)
Who are we kidding? Meant to be. From the moment it was made clear the two are in constant competition with another, their dynamic started to showcase that the two could challenge each other in ways no one else could. And thus, their story began. One perp after another, one sex tape joke to countless. The brilliantly slow burn and “will they, won’t they” started to shine through most effectively at the end of season one and resulted in one of the best episodes.
When it comes to Jake and Amy, their relationship has been strengthened by their means of challenging one another and intensely believing in each other through everything. And when done right, that is why “enemies to lovers” reigns as a trope because the two people who are often at each other’s throats, challenge one another to be the very best version of themselves possible.
Jake and Amy and Belief
The reason Jake and Amy’s competition with one another never crosses lines or breaks either of them is because at their core, they both believe and admire one another’s skills. They cannot have the same energy with anyone else because they both have such different means of operating that the best outcomes result in fortifying the belief that’s within them.
While they both admire Holt greatly and have learned a tremendous amount from him, there is something as beautifully challenging as the ways in which they believe in each other.
And because it’s something neither of them can understand in the beginning, it lingers in the air through everything they do. We see it when they’re uncover together as a fake couple and are given the chance to understand that when working together, both their abilities brought to the table results in an unmatched fire. The decisions made in those moments to question each other, listen, and finally come to the best outcome is a result of concrete, unshakable belief.
Thereby, when they finally get together, we are given the chance to see that belief fully on display as Jake doesn’t have to hide just how much he admires Amy, but he could openly vocalize it wherever and whenever. And he does so with exceptional fashion when he meets her brother. Amy becomes Jake’s world because no one has seen inside of him as profoundly as Amy has. (A “title of your sex tape” joke could be made here.)
Jake believes in Amy with such ardent fervor that her opinion of him is the one that matters most—the love that saved him from the years of darkness he let simmer by believing that he wasn’t worthy enough for someone to stay. But Amy does stay, and when she promises forever, she means it because time and time again, long before they were even a couple, Amy has always seen the immense potential residing within Jake.
She has believed in him, wholeheartedly and fought through whatever hurdles necessary to ensure that he believes it too.
If Jake never admitted to the daddy issues he harbors, it’s a detail we know Amy picked up on easily, and it’s something she would have always ensured he could overcome.
And though Amy often wanted the respect from someone like Holt, Jake always understood (and believed) that she did not need any of it to have her greatness measured. He understood the idea that though there are many things he could come to understand and grapple with, Amy was so gifted and talented, that he could spend years being surprised by her. He could spend years learning from her and finding new ways in which to be inspired by her.
She has always carried herself with immense strength, which is then increased when they have a hard time conceiving and yet, Jake sees so much more of it then in her persistence. He sees the immense growth in her desires, which are then crystallized in her devotion as a mother.
A moment where this is evidently prevalent in that I’ve deep dived into once before was in “Manhunter.”
There’s so much vulnerability in this moment that lasts less than two minutes, and that is what’s making it stick out so effortlessly. Andy Samberg and Melissa Fumero are always astounding as scene partners, but these types of moments allow them to showcase their chemistry more intricately than the ridiculous, but always perfect banter. It’s moments like this that genuinely showcase what a healthy marriage looks like and why it’s so upsetting we don’t get more like them on television.
It’s simple moments such as making a big decision right before bed because you’ve both finally found the peace within to take the relationship to the next level. When Amy voices that she was a little disappointed to get her period and learn that she isn’t actually pregnant, Jake questions if they should just start trying now. And what’s fascinating is that this takes place in an episode where his trust issues with father figures is brought to the forefront boldly, making his readiness that much more sincere because he’s at a place where he feels confident enough to be the very guardian figure he didn’t have growing up.
Samberg does such an incredible job of bringing a transcendent joy to the conversation that reiterates just how deeply he’s capable of loving a child, because that child would not only be an innocent kid needing his love and guidance, but they would be product of his and Amy’s adoration.
In everything he’s lost throughout his life, he’s found it in better ways in Amy, thus making him a stronger, better version of himself. And when Fumero smiles then sighs of relief, it’s a stunning showcase of the utter serenity that’s now within her, knowing they’re both ready for the next chapter in their lives. If the test returns positive now, it won’t be followed by stress, but rather, natural fears alongside the obligatory preparations which she’ll experience great joy during.
There’s a gorgeous maturity with these two now that’s grounded incredibly with their quirks that allows for simple moments to be completely magical. I feel like I could hear every single viewer squeal at their kiss because it was so much more than what we’ve seen in past episodes — it was a promise solidifying that whatever they face, they’re both on the same page right now. This is what healthy marriage looks like, quiet, still moments of sincere adoration before the lights turn out and stunning, seemingly effortless growth from both ends.
It’s the detail that the decisions that they have made together have always resulted in the most inspiring outcome for both of them. They have grown up together to come to a place where quietly contemplating life’s decisions becomes an easier task because they’re willing to listen to each other, really and truly.
The Challenges, The Compromises
Where they’ve both got their own issues at home, what they have brought to their corner is the promise to listen to each other. Because they are each other’s best friends and could be each other’s worst enemy in a playful manner, Jake and Amy have made listening to one another a priority. It’s why the quiet moments matter so much for the two of them because it’s what differentiates them from the families they have come from.
Where they could bicker and challenge each other, it still leads to healthy compromises. And at the end of the day, they have both grown strong in truly hearing each other with careful means. In loving one another and feeling safe enough to admit whatever is necessary, they have created a bond where nothing is off limits and every experience together is a healing one.
Through listening to one another and often examining their own behavior in the process, Jake and Amy have painted what healthy communication looks like, and they’ve done so with a whole lot of inappropriate jokes. But it works, right? If this were any other show and they were different characters, I might have questioned it further, but because Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a series about growth and teamwork, their bond has contributed to that beautifully.
One of the things that has always stood out about Jake and Amy is: she makes me laugh. There has always been something so achingly pure about Jake Peralta of all people saying this about the Amy Santiago. He laughs easily and he laughs a lot, but when he admits this, it’s because he wants the world to know that no one makes him laugh the way she does, and therefore, laughing with her his entire life is the home that he’ll always want to stay in.
Jake finds a home with Amy because he finds laughter with her. And Amy finds home in Jake because she finds that same comforting laughter in their relationship. It’s why they work so brilliantly because there are so many other people who could have been perfect on paper for Amy, but no one compares to what Jake has awakened in her—the laughter, the belief, the immense, unparalleled support, and the unwavering adoration.
There’s a lot that can be said about why the two of them are so perfect for each other, and it comes down to the fact that in loving each other, they both became better versions of themselves. Jake’s belief in Amy and the decision he was willing to make to be a stay-at-home dad in order for her to rise higher as Department Chief of the Police Reform is one of those reasons. It was for their son in more ways than one, but it was also for Amy because watching her continuously succeed fueled him, too.
His belief in Amy allowed her to constantly see that not only could she do whatever it is that she wanted to, but she would never have to feel guilty for being a working mom because part of Jake’s growth is spending more time with their son. That’s his calling, this is hers. And there’s never competition where it truly matters—where futures and goals are concerned.
When a couple is so brilliant, there are too many epic scenes to choose from, you know they’re aces. That’s the case with Jake and Amy, whether it’s crowning Amy as the amazing detective/genius, the proposal, the wedding, the announcement, case in point, they’re everything.
From enemies to unrequited love to friends, to best friends, and then to a family. Jake and Amy are each other’s home, and Charles rooting for them as much is just an accurate representation of all us. We are Charles Boyle. Charles Boyle is us. Sometimes, there just aren’t enough words for them.