Whatta Man, Whatta Man: Brooklyn Nine-Nine Has Found Boyle’s Sweet Spot

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Right from the start, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has proven expert at presenting character traits that feel true to the environment of the show and the precinct, yet don’t seem as though they are thrown on a page and expected to make sense. Each character has years of back story to explore as the show moves forward and each inter-office relationship has different quirks to work out, exactly as you would expect a normal group of coworkers to function. Even so, not every character started out perfect (realistically, no character is on point right from the start of any comedy), with some having more issues than other. Thankfully, throughout this freshman season the writers have done a great job of building on the good things about each character and scrapping the things that didn’t quite land. The best example of this during B99’s short run has been Boyle and the way every member of the team has different reactions to his antics. He started as the odd man out, with few friends and stuck admiring Diaz creepily from across the room. It was easy to see he had been written as Parks and Recreation’s Gerry/Gary/Larry counterpart, yet somehow less appreciated. Boyle’s weird moments stuck out too much to make him seem like a real person. Nobody being friends with him made sense because in real life not many people would socialize with someone who behaved the way he did for the first half dozen episodes or so of the season.

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By the time tonight’s episode rolled around, however, Boyle has become a fully realized character with idiosyncrasies that make sense even if they still aren’t fully acceptable all the time. His interactions with Peralta when asking for help with Vivian are consistently hilarious and sweet and allowing him to be just friends with Diaz (at least for the time being) has paid dividends for the comedy quotient of that relationship. The moment that really underlined this transformation for me was him breaking out in song and dance to Salt n’ Pepa’s “Whatta Man”, a song that no karaoke bar or high school dance has gone a night without. A true classic, it’s the absolute correct choice for office sort-of-weirdo to choose to goof off too. Maybe it’s a bit too cliched at this point as a “random classic 90’s song” that plays on a network sitcom but it worked for the situation so I’ll give it a pass. Boyle being completely comfortable in how he behaves, case in point dancing to “Whatta Man” in the middle of the precinct, comes off much more natural now rather than seeming unnerving. This point is really driven home when Peralta and Jeffords surrender to the magic of the music
at the end of the episode and Boyle wisecracks about how no one can resist the urge to dance to some S n’ P. It’s a nice picture of three coworkers who each have just as many little quirks as the others and have each other’s backs, instead of seeming like one or more members of the precinct are left out of the fun in a cruel or judgmental way. Great song choice to cap off a solid season-long character build for Boyle. Add in that Peralta has been toned down, Jeffords and Santiago have been toned up just a notch, and things can only get better on the character development front from here.

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