The biggest problem with will they/won’t they in sitcoms is actually dealing with it. Some shows take their time (Frasier), other shows try to bring it out early and then bumble around with it for seasons on end (Friends, How I Met Your Mother a few times), and only a few truly master it (the first five seasons of Cheers). ‘Parking Spot’ tackles the kiss from ‘Cooler’ and the fallout in ‘Table 34’ in another hilarious, confident episode that continues to alleviate my worries about their dynamic, at least in the short-term.
‘Parking Space’ is not a subtle title in the least: the episode is about Jess, Schmidt, and Nick fighting over a parking spot. Although it’s pretty clear from the start that the space is going to Winston (who’s running around trying to find a condom the whole episode), the fight over the parking spot becomes magnified by the fundamental changes in the apartment dynamic, thanks to the mouth nailing between Nick and Jess.
In the beginning, both of them are trying to blow off the whole ordeal – although it’s pretty clear when Nick makes a sex joke that things are quite different between them. Still unwilling to admit it, it takes Schmidt the Truth Bringer to point out that whatever’s going on between them is going to have an effect on the entire group. Nick and Jess might treat it like a game, but it’s not: as the fight over the parking spot shows, things have already changed in Nick’s mind.
There are a number of suggestions that it’s changed for Jess too – although they mostly manifest themselves in googly-eyes at Nick in a couple of Nick’s scenes. The show can’t play all of its cards in the middle of season, but the way they’ve been willing to put them down on the table in the last two weeks shows a confidence most sitcoms really struggle with. Not only is the fight over the parking spot hilarious, but it’s three characters being honest: Jess calls Nick a coward, Schmidt points out Jess’s manipulations, and Nick’s conflicted behavior proves the theory that things have permanently changed, whether he wants to admit it or not.
What’s interesting to consider is Nick’s arc for the whole season: he’s had loss after loss all season, and there seems to be a suggestion that a relationship with Jess might kick start his maturity. She certainly brings out a passion in him he doesn’t have elsewhere, whether he’s arguing with Jess or admitting his feelings for her.
‘Parking Space’ has a few odd moments – Winston being detached for the whole episode, the weirdness of the No Nail Oath – but it continues to handle Nick and Jess very well in the aftermath of their kiss.
– Nick won’t pay for the wiffy in the apartment.
– the scene with Hannah is funny, but random. It feels tacked-on until Winston shows up, introduced halfway through and then never visited again. His conversation with both of them is one of the season’s best scenes, though.
– swing votes, oaths, conversations about the Constitution. This show loves it’s US history.
– “Victory has a penis”. That’s a direct quote from Scott Caan.
– Nick’s plan to hide his car in plain view is genius.