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.