Loving House

by Anthony Bradley
Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, at 6:37 pm

I have a confession: I am addicted (kinda) to watching House. The Fox TV show, starring Hugh Laurie as Dr. House, is a provocative take on the medical drama genre. According to the network's description, Dr. House solves medical mysteries where the villain is a medical malady and the hero is an irreverent, controversial doctor who trusts no one, least of all his patients.

The show celebrated its 100th-episode milestone on Feb. 2 and has been nominated for 17 Emmy Awards, winning three, including one for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for its creator and executive producer, David Shore.

Here's why I think I love the show so much:

  1. Dr. House says whatever he thinks about people. He has no filter. I'm so jealous of that at times. I would love to be able to tell people, "You're an idiot." His bedside manner is horrible, and he usually says offensive things to his coworkers and patients. I do this all the time. If you use your mouth to communicate to people, eventually you're going to say something that offends someone. House, however, is such a brilliant clinician, the hospital puts up with his inappropriate comments and actions.
  2. Dr. House is a workaholic. Me too! I don't even want to count the number of hours I actually work. It's depressing.
  3. Dr. House looks for any psychological or emotional reasons for the actions of his patients and coworkers. House explores reasons behind the symptoms and enjoys pointing out the huge plank in the eyes of others. Occasionally, Dr. House will acknowledge that he has a speck of dust in his own eye.

Overall, the show is brilliant. The medical maladies may not even be real. I have no way of knowing, but the production team does a fantastic job of mixing suspense and comedy. I wonder if I and others are so enthralled by the show because deep inside Dr. House says what we often think---which is not always good. Maybe we like the show because too many of us are workaholics. Maybe we like the show because many of us are keen to the notion that people's irrational actions are often motivated by past bad experiences.

I am not promoting the above characteristics as necessarily "good," but they are compelling to watch. To be honest, I'm much more like Dr. House than I should be, and I wonder that if I had a different set of personal weaknesses if I would be interested in the show at all. In the meantime, because of re-runs on cable, I will continue to watch several hours of House every week.

Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of religious studies at The King's College in New York and a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.

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