Monday, October 3, 2011

R.I.P. Huddy

Warning: What follows is pretty much the ranting of a bitter Huddy fangirl. Read at your own risk:

So tonight is the 8th season premiere of what used to be my favorite show, House.


Remember last year when I wrote this entirely optimistic—gushy even—essay about how House creators David Shore and Katie Jacobs were going to avoid the so-called Moonlighting trap (i.e., ruining a show by hooking up two of its main characters)?

In case you’re not in the mood to click on the link, this is what I wrote:

If last night’s episode was any indication, Shore and Jacobs know exactly what they are doing with the consummation of Huddy. It’s just another way to explore the inner workings of House, one of the most complex characters on TV.

Oh, how horribly wrong I was. 

Here’s where I went wrong:

First and foremost, I assumed that Shore cared about the characters he had created as much as the viewers did.

Instead, the show treated House and Cuddy, a.k.a. “Huddy” (pardon the portmanteau, it’s just too darn convenient)  like any other plot arc—a (not entirely pleasant) task to be ticked off in 15 convenient episodes.

I assumed that the flirty sparring, the “eye sexing” that launched a thousand Tumblr gifs, the combativeness laced with longing that made the Huddy relationship so hot and unique, was going to remain intact.

Instead, the couple was 10 times sexier BEFORE they were in an official relationship. (The chemistry between actors Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein could power small villages—but once they were an official item, they barely shared a few chaste pecks.)

I assumed they would allow the long-suffering House to have a bit of happiness.

Instead, the show was so afraid of losing something they saw as essential to his character—his misery—they couldn’t even let the poor bastard enjoy the relationship for a few episodes. (In fact, as the Season 7 DVD commentary “Huddy Dissected” revealed, Shore specifically instructed actors Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein not to SMILE at each other too much.)

I assumed that he understood that we “Huddy” fans didn’t expect the relationship to be conventional, or smooth-sailing, or mushily romantic. We liked the Huddy relationship for what it was: Sexy and smart and deeply flawed, with a deep core of love and trust that managed to somehow sustain it. 

Instead, they managed to suck the joy out of the relationship before the inevitable death-march to its conclusion: Turning House into an insecure neurotic and Cuddy into a disapproving shrew.

And yes, I assumed that they would eventually break House and Cuddy up, but I didn’t think they would irreparably destroy their relationship and friendship—six seasons in the making—in the process.

All of this was bad enough, but things only got worse. After they broke House and Cuddy up, the show unleashed executive producer/director Greg Yaitanes to an unsuspecting public. This guy, a prolific Tweeter, seemed intent on mocking anyone who despaired the breakup, often engaging in gleeful Twitter wars with depressed fans. (Mocking your fans seems a strange PR strategy, but, uh, I guess he had his reasons. )

Then there was the (literally) bloody awful season finale in which a jealous House crashed his car through Cuddy’s living room. With that single act, David Shore officially crossed his titular hero over from troubled-but-noble-anti-hero to out-and-out sociopath. (Tonight’s premiere has House serving jail time for the act, a begrudging and in my opinion insufficient concession Shore has made to outraged fans.)

Then, the final nail on the Huddy coffin—the thing that made a sad season almost unbearable for me—Lisa Edelstein quit the show, amid rumors of truly insulting contract negotiations. (There were also rumors, unconfirmed, that the show’s parent company, NBC Universal, tried to muzzle Edelstein’s outspoken left wing politics. If so, shame on them.)

So . . .what are we left with? The brilliance and hotness of Hugh Laurie, of course, which is no small thing. (He is pretty much what they had in mind with the cliché: “I’d watch him read from the phone book.”)

There’s the bromance between House and his best friend and conscience Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). It’s always satisfying to see these two gifted actors play off each other.

There’s the writing, which has taken a turn for the dark lately (from cynical to downright misanthropic) but can still occasionally produce something of style or wit.

And. . .that’s basically it.

I’ll watch tonight’s premiere out of misguided loyalty, while practicing the cello, or ironing (okay, I don’t actually own an iron, but if I did. . .), but certainly without any of the enthusiasm and excitement I had a year ago.

It’s a shame. They had something great and they messed it up. I miss the days when my favorite show was  . . . my favorite show.

1 comment:

Jess said...


That is by far one of THE best ever posts on this subject. I've written so many of them at my blog, just click on the tags for House Season 7 LOL. I am so glad you wrote this today on the night of the big premiere. I thought I was over the mess they dealt us months ago but I'm not.

Thank you for writing exactly what so many of us longtime loyal [H]ouse fans have been thinking for months now.

For me it isn't just about Lisa leaving though I realized once she left the show just would never be the same (how else can House be redeemed if Cuddy isn't there to accept his redemption and forgive him?) it was about so much more, the overall dynamic being lost forever, the House we've come to know and love seems to have changed a great deal since Season 1 despite the fact that Shore maintains "people don't change".

House has changed a great deal. Yes he's still flawed, damaged and misanthropic. But can any longtime fans really say that the House we're seeing NOW is the same House we saw in earlier seasons? This is NOT the House of Season 1 "Paternity" or Season 2's Stacy arc, or Season 3 "Meaning" and the Tritter arc, Season 4 "Alone" "Act Your Age" "Fetal Position" or Season 5, 6 or even early Season 7. No, House changed after the breakup. He became this crazy pathetic guy we hardly recognized. We did recognize House in pain, but that was about it.

So many things made that show are gone because of the mess Shore created. We lost the dynamic between House/Cuddy/Wilson, the buildup of 6 years (onscreen) of a 20+ year friendship and chemistry between House and Cuddy which was basically tossed aside like it never meant a thing. Basically everything that happened between House and Cuddy in Seasons 1 through 6 was just POOF---wiped away as if it never happened.

In addition we miss House's funny interaction with his team, his attempts to at times be their mentor while being a sadistic pain in the ass (remember Wilson called him the "Diabolical yet Benevolent Puppetmaster). We'll also miss the way House's patients each seemed to affect him personally in one way or another, some more than others.

What Shore did to this show still hurts. I don't blame Hugh, his acting is his art and his art has taught him to push things to the edge, be hold and daring, that's why he loves the House character because he does push limits and that's what good acting is all about. I don't blame Lisa for leaving, she obviously had good reasons for not accepting Fox/NBCU's deal.

Can this show be saved? Odette Annable is merely eye candy to appease the male audience 18-49, Charlene Yi is there to appease the ones who pine after Masters. Foreman is well...Foreman. As the new Dean of Medicine, how good can he be? Cuddy was the perfect Dean of Medicine because of their history and she was the ONLY one who could keep him in line (in exchange he pushed her to be her best and he challenged her in ways no one else ever could). And then Chase is just well....Chase. In one word, BORING.

This used to be the best show on television, one of the best I've ever seen. I'm only hanging in there now by a thread because of Hugh and Bob. But honestly it's hard, very hard, especially after I witnessed the debacle of Season 7. I promised I would not come back but Hugh is intriguing, he always puts his best into everything he does but can one man carry the show? I just don't think it will be enough.