It takes a lot for me to criticize Jim Halpert. I'm one of those terrible people who references his and Pam's relationship on The Office regularly in my daily life, and I could recite lines from every meaningful scene between the two of them in my sleep. But there is one very troubling decision of Jim's that often gets swept under the rug, and fans cannot continue to ignore it; it's time to discuss the worst thing Jim ever did on The Office. I'm talking, of course, about when Jim buys his parents' house without asking Pam.
Every Office fan knows that this happened — some may even find it romantic — but it's nowhere near the top five most memorable Jim moments of the series. Writer Nicole Cliffe most recently brought the issue to light with a tweet in mid-April, and it's been on my mind ever since. At the point in the show at which Jim decides to buy Pam a house — "Frame Toby," early in Season 5 — the couple has been together for a while, and they're engaged. It's unclear if they're technically living together yet, but the relationship is obviously headed that way. So, it's not as if Jim is plotting to surprise someone with a mortgage on the second date, but it's still definitely a bold move, to say the least.
He tries to justify the purchase early in the episode by saying it's the house he grew up in (as if that means his future wife automatically should also be endeared to it), but it's clear he knows he's taking a gamble. Ultimately, it goes OK for Jim, as you can witness for yourself in this clip:
He very sweetly sets up a painting studio for Pam's art in the garage, and he provides plenty of disclaimers that he knows the house isn't exactly a mansion, but promises to fix it up to suit them. Pam loves it, and all the viewers who are watching, horrified, as this extremely unwise decision plays out, can breathe a sigh of relief.
Here's the bottom line — who in their right mind buys a damn house without consulting the person with whom they have agreed to merge all their finances for the rest of their lives? And, to be clear, this situation wouldn't be as troubling if Jim and Pam were rolling in dough. This isn't comparable to, say, if Beyonce bought JAY-Z a beach house with the spare change she dug out of her couch cushions. Jim and Pam are paper salespeople who, later in that same season, will discover they're about to be parents. This isn't exactly the best situation in which to get romantic — thousands of dollars are on the line.
Not to mention, Pam could have hated the idea. And what, was she going to tell her puppy-dog-eyed fiancé that he'd just wasted all his savings on a romantic gesture that fell flat? Jim starts to tell her that if she totally hates the house, he'll understand, but even then, they're past the point of no return, so what does that even mean? Papers have apparently been signed.
I alert my boyfriend if I buy bread for our apartment that costs a dollar more than it usually does, so the idea of Jim secretly spending thousands — while also planning a wedding at the same time, mind you — is just mind-boggling, and realistically should have thrown up plenty of red flags for Pam. I get that Jim is in the business of grand gestures, but it was his family selling the house. He could have set that whole tour up, complete with the mock painting studio, and presented it to Pam before closing on the deal. It would have driven home the same points in her mind, been just as romantic, and also have offered her the opportunity to lovingly say "no."
It all works out for the best, luckily for Jim, and Pam does get to pull a similar fast one on him toward the end of the series when she puts that same house up for sale without telling him. Ha! Take that, Jimbo. Of course, it hasn't actually sold yet when he finds out, and Pam was going to tell him when an offer came in. Plus, Pam only does this so Jim will be inclined to follow his career dreams in Philadelphia, not just because she feels like it, so none of these developments are really of any benefit to her.
Still, I'm willing to overlook these details because Jim and Pam, at their core, love each other more than anything. That's all that really matters, despite any questionable real estate decisions.