Jake and Amy debate the pros and cons of kids in a well-structured episode.
It’s not hard to stan for Jake (Andy Samberg) and Amy (Melissa Fumero). Even casual passerbys like Pam, the librarian with the twisted bowel who was sweet talked by an “Antonio Banderas-type” into nearly blowing up a hospital room, can immediately see their appeal. And “Casecation” makes a solid case for why these two wackos should start a family. After all if they can survive a structured debate in the company of a comatose man and still come to an agreement about what American Gladiator-inspired name their future offspring should have (Atlas, naturally!), they can make it through anything.
Sitcom episodes about whether or not to have kids tend to fall fairly high on the trope meter. This is fertile ground for examining the differences that make a marriage and offers an opportunity to draw some (typically gendered) battle lines between characters. Despite medical advances, the ticking biological clock remains an issue for women; one that – as Amy points out – simply doesn’t apply to men, who can still procreate into their sixties.
Things begin innocuously enough when Jake convinces his wife to hang around the hospital on the titular casecation (a vacation that also doubles as a case) because they have seen so little of each other recently. It’s an adorable premise, made all the cuter with some Parisian decorations courtesy of Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) and a selection of “budget conscious local cheddars.”
Of course Jake is scared of being a bad dad – it’s an integral trait baked into his character’s DNA!
As the pair relate their top five memories of the first year of marriage (which includes swapped contact lenses, ruining a child’s laser tag birthday, and an Uber Pool ride with someone who bears NO resemblance to Michael Caine), their conversation is interrupted by nosey neighbor Pam. She complements them on their adorableness and, in the process, sparks the debate at the heart of the episode when Amy hints to her that she and Jake are going to start a family soon.
The topic is obviously a hugely important one for both the couple and the series (first comes marriage, then comes baby), but in true Nine-Nine fashion, the process to achieve resolution are incredibly silly. This is a series that frequently leans on wordplay jokes and sight gags and the introduction of Holt (Andre Braugher) as debate moderator fulfills both functions. The comatose mobster in the background is a constant comical reminder of the setting, even as Jake and Amy parry their arguments back and forth for the pleasures of first Holt, then Kevin, and finally Gale, the head of the debate moderator’s guild (the latter two have been diligently listening on the phone).
This is the most classically funny section of the episode, if only because it is so ridiculous. Like the best Nine-Nine episodes, however, there’s also some significant character development baked into the arguments that Amy and, more specifically, Jake raise in their pro/con defense. Of course Jake is scared of being a bad dad – it’s an integral trait baked into his character’s DNA!
The fact that the debate format returns for the “climax” of the case, when Jake must talk a confused Pam out of committing homicide, is good script writing, as is Jake’s near inability to make a point (it’s not as though he has gotten better at debates in the intervening time!).
Is Jake’s change of heart, prompted by the explosive situation, a little too quick and pat? Sure…but this is still a 22 minute sitcom, after all.
- That the entire misunderstanding about kids should arise from a picture of a child at a waterpark is classic Jake & Amy. That they should decide to vacation at a waterpark when they next have time-off is similarly on point for the couple.
- While the debate for Holt is the most comedic section of the episode, listening to Terry (Terry Crews) explain how disruptive his twin daughters are is pretty amusing, especially after Amy’s confession to Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) that Terry is her secret weapon for selling Jake on the joys of fatherhood.
- I’m with Amy: Bee Movie is a children’s movie; it is not for adults or teens.
- Is anyone surprised that Scully (Joel McKinnon Miller) and Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) spend a great deal of time at the hospital? Anyone? Bueller?
- Should I know what the Lincoln/Douglas format of debate is? Was I a bad high school student?
- Gale (when Jake argues that a formal debate is a dumb way to settle an argument): “Raymond, Kevin, I’ll be reporting this.”
- Amy (when Jake asks what she would have done if he had won the debate): “Jake, I’m trying so hard to be nice, but I don’t know how to answer that.”
- Jake (when Amy suggests he can grow old and still procreate with a younger woman): “There’s no way I’ll be rich enough to attract a 28 year old!”
- Jake (to Amy): “There was a second bomb. Your butt. Your butt is da domb.”