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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Big Bang Theory: “The Parking Spot Escalation”

Illustration for article titled The Big Bang Theory: “The Parking Spot Escalation”

After a disappointing episode that chose to ignore any growth The Big Bang Theory has had over the last few years, season six gets back on track with “The Parking Spot Escalation,” an episode that looks at how Howard has become the most prestigious of the four nerds. When Howard buys a new Mini Cooper, he obtains parking spot #294, an extremely convenient piece of property that was unfortunately previously owned by Sheldon Cooper. This sparks a feud between the two friends that spreads to their girlfriends, and the connection between the male and female plotlines is why this episode works so well.

Sheldon may be entertaining, but damn is he an unlikable character, and his completely unnecessary obsession with retaining his parking spot is frustrating, but a great source of comedy. I’ve definitely started reacting to Sheldon the way people like Howard and Leonard do: with a mix of disdain, confusion, and annoyance. He’s essentially become the villain of this series. Sheldon is the person that causes needless conflict, and he’s not going to change his ways any time soon. His actions this episode send shockwaves that do considerable damage to the relationship of Amy and Bernadette (and Penny’s face), but he has absolutely no remorse for any harm that he does.

Howard is given the parking spot because he’s a higher-profile asset to the university, and Sheldon’s superiority complex (along with a couple other complexes) kicks in at the thought that he’s not the most valuable boy in school. He goes on a rampage fueled by the philosophy that if someone is not using something, it is free to be taken, so he swipes Howard’s precious Iron Man helmet. Howard responds by taking Sheldon’s diploma, then sitting naked in Sheldon’s spot on the couch while resting Sheldon’s laptop on his Jewish astronaut penis because Howard is tired of this bullshit. Sheldon does not know how to drive, so he should not even be given a parking spot in the first place.

While the Howard/Sheldon war is fun, it’s the female story that garners the most laughs, with Amy and Bernadette showing their claws as they stand up for their men. But before that goes down, there are a lot of jokes about Amy’s hairy vagina. The girls’ story begins with the women at Penny’s after getting bikini waxes, a first for Amy. Penny remarks that the salon usually doesn’t have to go out for extra wax and Bernadette is surprised that Amy feels only five pounds lighter, and later, Amy will show Sheldon, and he’ll comment on the number of bandages. The pube humor is a little more adult than this show usually skews, but this cast of women can make it funny without being tasteless.

Amy and Bernadette have developed an antagonistic but friendly relationship this season (with Penny usually stuck in the middle), but the friendly flies out the window when the parking drama hits. Amy makes an off-handed comment about Howard’s fleeting fame, saying that while Howard will never go back to space again, Sheldon will always be a genius. Bernadette responds that Howard has actually been to space, while all of Sheldon’s ideas have never been proven. Amy responds by saying that Howard is an inspiration to millions of Americans, proving that you don’t have to be special or even qualified to go into space. And that’s when the big guns come out.

“Amy, I’m sensing a little hostility,” Bernadette says, “Is it maybe because, like Sheldon’s work, your sex life is also theoretical?” All Penny can say is “damn,” and that’s really all you can say. But then Amy responds with her own low blow: “Well at least when we do make love, Sheldon won’t be thinking about his mother. And yes, that is a cleverly veiled reference to Howard’s lifelong obsession to crawl back into her spacious womb.” Bernadette leaves in a huff to have sex with her husband, but there’s still one more spectacular round to this fight. After Sheldon spray paints the parking spot and leaves Amy’s car parked in it, the car is towed and Amy shows up at Bernadette’s in a huff. She tells Bernadette that her husband owes her $200 for the tow, but Howard had nothing to do with it. Melissa Rauch has her best moment of the season when she coldly tells Amy, “Because I’m the one who had it towed.” Then Amy swings her purse and smacks Penny in the face, slightly diffusing the tension by hitting her best friend with a coffee can full of change.


After Sheldon sets up his office in the parking spot and nearly gets run over by Howard in the process, the men finally settle their argument. Howard apologizes and gives up the spot because he didn’t know how much it meant to Sheldon, but Sheldon won’t let Howard be the bigger man in this. He’ll give up the spot to Howard if Howard will say out loud that Sheldon is the bigger man, so Howard buries his pride and just says it. The two couples reconcile over a meal at Cheesecake Factory, glad that they’ve all gotten through the ordeal unscathed, and served by a severely bruised Penny. So everything worked out for everyone, except for severely bruised Penny.

Stray observations:

  • Once again, Raj is barely in one of this season’s stronger episodes. His major contribution is discussing the differences between zombies, vampires, and mummies. Can the writers please figure out what to do with his character?
  • Penny’s first bikini wax was done by her sister using melted crayons and duct tape. Yowch.
  • Sheldon got Nutter Butters in the university vending machines. Maybe he’s not so bad after all?
  • “Well I’m not using my nipples either. Maybe they should reassign those.”
  • “First they say you can’t drink and drive. Next thing you know, you can’t let your 10-year-old take the wheel while you sleep one off in the backseat.”
  • “I’m assuming these are some kind of horns they bought at Comic-Con?”
  • “Leonard’s taking me to a physics lecture, and coffee will just keep me awake.”