Thursday, May 26, 2011

HTTProfiiles: House, Season 1

With it being announced that the TV series House is ending next year after an 8 season run, I decided to write an article on what I think the show means and other various things. We’ll start from Season 1 and continue on until we hit the end of Season 7, in a series of articles.

Season 1 of House was a revelation to me. I have never been a big fan of watching TV (I am much more of a reader), so it took a few episodes for me to get into it. I watched the third episode, called Occam’s Razor. It was intriguing to me how House was such an asshole, but was universally respected (occasionally loved) by all that knew him. I didn’t understand at the time why this was true, being as I was only twelve years old, but something about the show kept me coming back. The more I watched, the more I fell in love with the show. The arrogance that House displayed always seemed to have a purpose, whether it be to motivate his team members or force others to confront awful truths about themselves. Of course, House said he did it because he liked the puzzle, but I liked to think that the underlying motives were much purer than the shallow ones he implied.

The Edward Vogler Situation in that season really highlighted the aforementioned respect, as they chose to let a $100 million donation to the hospital slip away because the benefactor (Vogler, as named above) wanted House gone. When you save enough lives to warrant the removal of that much capital, you have influence far beyond the usual. House, as the season clearly showed, got away with nearly everything that he did wrong, as the results always justified the means, even if they ended up not doing so, because of the past experiences of House’s work. They knew that even if House made a terrible mistake and the worst occurred, House would never make that mistake again. That was the beauty of his work: perfection was what he worked towards, but in small increments. Who knows how many lives he saved by making one mistake, from him learning the failures of his method? His ability to be wrong is what served him best as a doctor. Being conservative has its place, yes, but when you are so conservative that you are afraid to take risks not because of the danger involved for the patient (as it so often happened) but because you were afraid of being without a job, it is more detrimental than a potentially risky treatment. Being a doctor is educated guessing, and the more mistakes you make, the less you make in the future.

House, to me, is a symbol of the human frustration we all share for the inadequacies of the human species. House repeatedly demonstrates that people are liars, no matter who they are. They do only what serves them best, even if their choices are horrifying and so obviously illogical it makes parents feeding their children lead based paint seem rational. But the best part about it is that we as a species know how idiotic we are. In our weakest and unhappiest moments, we know exactly what we lack. Then we find something to distract us from this extremely depressing fact, and drift off into an ignorant stupor.

House, however, is never happy, never blissful. Every waking moment of his life is filled with unhappiness and depression. He is the representation of our realizations, allowing us a permanent look into what we truly do wrong. As he becomes frustrated with humanity, we do too, by proxy. By being our proxy, we let out our own frustrations through him, and find a sort of catharsis. Which makes House’s existence sadder, as the extent of much of our care for him derives from our ability to use him, therefore proving his hypothesis on humanity.

We are sad, unhappy creatures on a journey for some semblance of truth and happiness, and all too often we fall short. However, its the moments that we do not that let us appreciate a person such as Gregory House, who has and might never find the elusive truth he seeks.

1 comment:

  1. Hunter, House is the only drama I watch on TV.

    Your post is very interesting although I read him a bit differently. In the early shows, I found his character to be an interesting premise. What if one used only logic and reason in medicine and not emotion. House thought that by using his intellect, he would make better decision. He would not be distracted by emotion. This didn't seem to be an actual choice: he wasn't yearning for human contact. It seemed to be more of a justification of his personality.

    (I wonder what it would be like if this sort of philosophy were applied to teaching? to politics? to yard work?)

    In the later episodes though, he is just a mean asshole. He seems to hurt people for fun. I would be interested in a prequel of sorts: what was he like before he hurt his leg?

    Here are some instances where I think he has been happy: when he jumped off the balcony into the pool, when he solves a medical mystery, when he plays the piano, and a few others.

    Now to your point. I watch several shows for their portrayal of those who have "fallen short," but (I'll confess here) it's for my own ego. I watch Hoarders and feel particularly tidy. I watch intervention and feel like a teetotaler.

    Your "proxy" idea is truly valid. I think it explains the difference between popular film and artistic cinematography.