Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dr. Gregory House: a morphing character

Starting in December, I began the journey of watching the complete series of House M.D. At first, the show was a little off-putting because Dr. Gregory House (played by Hugh Laurie) is SUCH an unlikeable character. The man is extremely sarcastic, manipulative, and is known as "the doctor who everyone hates". But since he's a genius diagnostician, Dean of Medicine Lisa Cuddy, (played by Lisa Edelstein) the head of the hospital (and a constant love interest) keeps him around.

House is a troubled man--he has a chronic pain problem (from a leg muscle injury), he pops Vicodin pills like they're candy, he has past issues with his father that still linger, and he believes that "everybody lies". He also neglects a huge role of being a doctor--actually interacting with the patients. He usually delegates doing the patient history, procedures, breaking into patients' houses (weird??!!) and general patient care to his "team" of 3-4 doctors.

House is the epitome of the benign violation theory---his jokes are insulting, but the benign aspect is that he is always in a position of power over those he insults, so there are no repercussions. Therefore the situation becomes "acceptable", so to speak. I emit a small chuckle for these jokes to combat some the uncomfortable feelings I get from the jokes made.

When I reflect on the nature of the show, I think "why on earth do I watch this?" The medical cases are often gross and the main character is a pill-popping jerk, but I stick with the show because the characters are so interesting. Even though (in early seasons) House is really unlikable, as a person he is very intriguing and the way his character is developed always makes the viewer hungry to know more.

I am now well into season seven (out of eight), and the has been a dramatic change of character from the first few seasons to this one. As previously mentioned, he doesn't interact with patients because he just doesn't like them. But an event in season six was the turning point for House--he finally went to rehab for his Vicodin addiction. After he left rehab (a whole two episodes!) he was still sarcastic, manipulative, and generally disliked; but now he's more considerate of others and actually interacts with the patients and cares about them.

I am interested to see how the writers end the series, and especially how they tie up the loose ends of Greg House's story.

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