Who could have imagined that a pill-popping, insult-tossing, female-harassing, patient-loathing doc would wind up stealing the hearts of millions? Or that the wildly-intelligent Dr. Gregory House, MD would worm his way into our hearts after being paired with one of the most insipidly simple shows to come down the pike, AMERICAN IDOL?
And yet as the HOUSE prepares to air it’s 100th episode (tonight at 9PM on FOX, Global in Canada), there’s no denying that while many of us struggle to understand the medical intricacies which take center stage each week, the prickly physician who seems to lack any sort of impulse control when it comes to speaking his thoughts has wormed his way into our hearts.
As with many classic anti-heroes, behavior we inexplicably find charming on the screen would appall in real life. (Which explains why Dr. House showed up on the list of television’s rudest personas over at howrudeareyou.com … although, to his credit, he didn’t take the top slot!) His insubordination is legendary, especially where his borderline sexual harassment of hospital administrator Dr. Lisa Cuddy is concerned.
Cuddy: I need you to wear your lab coat.
House: I need two days of outrageous sex with someone obscenely younger than you are. Like, half your age.
Even his best bud and colleague, Dr. James Wilson, isn’t immune from House’s verbal baitings.
Wilson: She was uncomfortable doing any more tests. I had to convince her just to do that one.
House: You get that often? Women who’d rather die than get naked with you?
In all fairness, the an is an equal-opportunity offender, as evidenced by his remarking, “I can’t ask the black guy or one of the chicks to do it; it’d be insensitive.”
In the end, what makes the show work is the fact that it combines several of our longtime-favorite genres; It is equal parts medical drama, mystery, comedy and drama. The procedure is almost as simple as those favored by the LAW & ORDER franchise: patient has mystery disease, House’s team comes up with theories which are wrong, House offends with his snarkiness, some everyday event leads our hero to an 11th-hour solution, end with a snark and everyone goes home happy.
What sets HOUSE apart from so much of what ails television today — aside from the fact that, blessedly, it is not a reality show — is that it is wildly intelligent. Even when we do not completely understand what is happening, we somehow feel smarter for having been in the presence of these doctors. And maybe, just maybe, we get to feel like better people because we want to see our wounded — both physically and mentally — hero to find happiness and maybe, just maybe, even love.
In other words, the medical drama manages to let us feel better about ourselves… and how many shows can we really say that about?