What the Fig?: House, M.D.

For the past eight years, critics and audiences alike have been mesmerized by the Fox drama House, M.D. With a fascinating ensemble and episodes that never fail to entertain, it’s no wonder House has been on the air for so long. Starring a very British Hugh Laurie as the American doctor, Gregory House, House, M.D. introduces a character that medical dramas seem to avoid like the plague: a doctor who neither likes nor converses with his patients. In any other show, someone like Gregory House would be abhorred and made out to be the villain. It only takes an episode or two to forgive the grumpy Doctor; House’s biting wit and borderline sociopathic attitude stems from a long-time battle with leg pain. He struggles with this pain daily and only finds relief when taking handfuls of Vicodin.

It would seem that someone so incapable of normal human emotion would never have friends, and yet, House’s co-workers remain by his side, taking the place of his conscience and telling him when he’s wrong. However unstable, House’s relationships with both James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) and Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), who plays the Dean of Medicine and is House’s boss, let the audience know that House isn’t simply a jerk. He has people who actually care about him, and no matter how hard he tries to push them away, they always work things out in the end. With a character as vicious as House, it is easy to go off the deep end and write someone completely unlikable, but House’s friends humanize him. Through the series, House confronts his own humanity on various occasions, and each time he returns to his friends and his team with a slightly new outlook.

Although a genius in his field–he’s a diagnostician of infectious diseases–House is only one man. Due to his pathological need to be objective, he commands a team of three doctors who run tests, speak to patients and their families, and administer medicine. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) is idealistic; she believes in informed consent and eventually develops a crush on House. It is later explained to her that she was only hired because every team needs a pretty face. Though she is a very good doctor, she frequently butts heads with her boss on issues of morality–House often sees her pursuance of moral excellence as interfering with his need to “solve the puzzle” and save the patient’s life.

Fellow team member Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer) has been working with House for the longest, has grown used to House’s attitude, and is frequently the first to agree with his diagnoses. He subservience earns him a few teasing remarks from his co-workers, but in fact, Chase is the only one of House’s employees who is not frequently manipulated. Chase initially wasn’t going to be hired, but when his famous father made a call and a generous donation, Cuddy forced House’s hand. Though his father got him the fellowship, Chase frequently holds his own and occasionally blatantly defies House’s orders.

And finally, there is Eric Foreman. House claims that he only hired Foreman because of a criminal record, stating that it would be easier to break into patients’ homes if he had an expert on his team. Despite knowing this truth, Foreman continues to work for House (whom he frequently refers to as insane) and slowly develops into a House-like character himself as the seasons progress.

Along with his team and the only two friends he can seem to hold on to, House solves cases that are frequently labeled “unsolvable” by other doctors in other hospitals. He only takes one case per week and avoids working in the free clinic just downstairs, but is never fired because Cuddy believes that the lives he saves are worth dealing with his bad attitude and poor work ethic.

With so many ways House M.D. could have gone wrong, and all the ways it went right instead, the show will be remembered as one of the greatest medical dramas to ever grace our television screens. Having been compared to ER, St. Elsewhere, and even Sherlock Holmes, it will bittersweet to see House M.D. go, this season is its last, –but fans are more than happy to have watched and enjoyed the series for nearly a decade.

Briana is an avid reader, a budding author, and a huge fan of anything and everything to do with Henry VIII. She considers herself a TV addict and over the years has watched a little bit of everything, both good and bad. A few of her personal favorites are The Big Bang Theory, Dexter, Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, and Sons of Anarchy.

2 thoughts on “What the Fig?: House, M.D.

  1. This is an example of how low TV has sunk. An addicted, crazy man is a hero? I don’t think so. What a role model. And the cases are impossible. No one hospital could ever have more than one of the weird cases he supposedly solves. No administrator would keep him on staff for the things he pulls. He’d be in a drug program for sure once his addiction is discovered. Give me something that the writer of this series has at least researched. Not to mention the guy who plays House is disgusting. I have to at least like the MC. I’ve tried to watch this many times, but can’t. Maybe I need to be on more drugs…

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