Long before the days when I jumped into this crazy world known as television blogging, I was living a different life online. I was part of a fandom that obsessed like crazy over this new medical show involving a cranky and very eccentric doctor, his low key best friend (and only friend), the three ducklings that followed him everywhere, and a boss who obviously learned how to use cleavage to claw her way to the top. Yes, the show was “House.”
A Different Kind of Doctor
It’s hard to believe before “House” that there were no shows about doctors with horrible bedside manners. Sure there always have been eccentric doctors, but none have been this misanthropic. Even “ER” or “St. Elsewhere” didn’t stray into this territory with their look at the flawed and very human people behind the medicine. “House” has always been more lighthearted and less realistic than other medical shows though, just alone because of its main character. I always wondered why everyone bent over backward to protect House while he carried on with his selfish and self destructive ways, but they did. That’s always been a fascination of this show. Why were we always rooting for this guy? The claim was because he saved lives, but honestly it’s always been more complex than that. Despite his misery he gets under your skin. It can’t be described.
Another thing I loved about “House” was the problem solving. The cases were unique and often went places that we would have never guessed. There is no way I’d figure out things like someone could get the plague because of fleas off a dog, or that one time it was actually Lupus. The concept was brain candy for someone like me and I poured into these episodes looking for all the clues I missed. That and I wanted to critique Lisa Cuddy’s and Robert Chase’s very tacky wardrobes. Plus, no one made a purple shirt look as fine as Eric Foreman.
The show also taught us that everybody lies. It’s that cynical view of human nature that actually ended up solving a lot of the cases and saving lives. By teaching his students to never take what a patient said at face value, they were able to look beyond the obvious. It’s quite brilliant really, and could easily be applied to all circles of life. Dr. House truly is an amazing genius in this regard.
The true heart of “House” though has always been House and his offbeat relationship with Wilson. There was a reason Huddy was a disaster and why House’s relationships have never worked out. Ditto with Wilson and his marriages. Yes, they even got a house together. Now that the show is playing out that relationship the way most do, with the tragic ending, I’m watching this conclusion with huge fascination. It’s like all epic romances, does House live while Wilson dies? Can one go on without the other? I say not, but that’s just me being the romantic.
The House Fandom
The “House” fandom was a strange one but it meant everything to me for almost three years. I was in a little fringe group that spent a lot of time talking about the one team member that got the least amount of air time, Robert Chase, played brilliantly for eight seasons by Jesse Spencer. I admit part of it was hormonal – a young, hot doctor with the dreamy Australian accent, but in earnest it was more than that. Chase was an enigma. Forget the fact he was most like House, just his age alone defied all logic that this guy could be working on such a team. I mean did he go to college when he was 12? He’d had to have started med school at 16 to be on this team when he was 23. He’s a skilled surgeon too? He’s a regular Doogie Howser in this world.
But I digress. It was through “House” that I finally broke out of my lifelong writing shell and took on fan fiction. My first fics were terrible! (Don’t look for them, they’ve been deleted.) I eventually found my groove though and I ended up getting quite a following for my stories. A few are still legendary. It was through this group that I realized for the first time ever I could write publicly and people would read it. I was deeply involved with writing these fics for the first three seasons and critiquing others, making all sorts of friends in the process. It was an exhilarating time for a fan that was experiencing a severe case of career burnout and needed something creative.
As with many fandoms, most fans broke off into their own little sects. These fans were all about dividing themselves by who they shipped. There were the Hamerons (House/Cameron), the Chamerons (Chase/Cameron), Huddy (House/Cuddy), and House/Wilson, who I don’t think ever developed a great shipping name (I refuse to acknowledge Hilson). There were also those really small groups championing House/Chase and House/Foreman, but everyone knows that House’s true love is Wilson.
Despite the many hours spent online discussing the cases and the hidden contexts of the episodes in terms of character dynamics (aka Chase’s hair looked fine that day), the community that I was a part of for the first three seasons broke apart. The shippers started warring with each other, certain groups of the fandom were disrespected, and suddenly I wasn’t just feeling young anymore, I was reliving those awkward preteen years again.
Then, season four of “House” happened. The team was broken apart (even though my Chameron shipping ways were very happy) and House started his giant lottery for a new team. That’s when the show nosedived from clever to clownish. It never recovered. The wrong team members were picked and the old ones were discarded as side show freaks. “House” himself even lost that brilliance. By midseason I couldn’t stomach the show anymore and walked away, not wanting to cause any more misery for my compadres online (plus I found this other show called “Supernatural” to write about). I did come back to watch some episodes here and there, but I often found that the writers struggled when they would try to address the vicodin addiction. Perhaps it’s just me, but they never quite nailed the true nature of addiction and they were often erroneous medically about it. But for the sakes of entertainment, I set aside those nitpicks for I knew the intent and at least raised awareness.
Why House Succeeded Despite Creative Dips
It’s obvious the main reason House has gone on eight seasons is because of Hugh Laurie. The writing has never been stellar on this show in my opinion, but the mark of a truly exceptional actor is being able to take crap and make something memorable with it. I often wished “House” was more of an ensemble show but in retrospect I know that would never of worked. As much as I love Chase, Foreman, Cameron, and Taub (the rest are meh), the show wouldn’t of succeeded with them at the forefront. House is too looming, too dominating a character. They had to exist to play off of House, who is indeed the center of the universe. They couldn’t forge their own identities as long as he was part of their lives. Which is exactly why they had to quit to move on.
The show has reached it’s time. The concept of solving mysterious medical cases did grow old, and became formulaic eventually. When the show tried to veer into different territory, it became more soap opera-ish and less medically focused. It was a no win situation, which meant the course had been run.
“House” will always means something different to each person that watched it, but for me, it represents something far more than a quirky medical drama. For the first three amazing seasons, it fueled a lifestyle for me, one that I will never forget. I’ve gone onto to greater things because of it (yes, despite it’s many frustrations, TV blogging has been good to me). I will be there watching tonight, if anything as a thank you for giving me and millions of others something to obsess over on Monday nights. I will forever be grateful.