Gregory House: The Rarest and Most Realistic Character on Television


I really like House, both the show and the character. The show is full of humor and insight, and manages to deliver both in doses that facilitate their digestion. The same can be said for the balance kept between plot advancement and focusing on the diagnoses process, each one entertaining but eventually fatiguing if not helped along by the other.

When I talk to people about the show, they seem to be watching House from the outside and only relating to the supporting cast, House’s more “normal” residents, attending physicians, bosses and colleagues at Princeton-Plainsboro Teach. They might have a liking for Dr. Allison Cameron (which I might share), or they might find Dr. Eric Foreman a friendly and human counterpart to House’s unwavering misanthropy.

Most people never get past the initial impression you get from Hugh Laurie’s character – the show even gives us some sparse but critical views into House’s nature or motivations, but most people I talk don’t seem to have been awake during those scenes. The reason I say that House is the most realistic character on television lies in those moments when we it becomes clear that the show manages to slowly explain the reasons behind his acidic (and yet strangely magnetic, at least for all of his co-workers) personality.

House sees beyond the world that his fellow doctors and patients live in, which is what gives him the ability to be so good at his job. He has a strict definition of what consists of entertainment for him, and where everyone else is busy exploring themselves, House discovered “himself” a long time ago. He’s not bitter or misanthropic, he’s just extremely self-aware. List the things which House might do when not practicing, and the items won’t extend too far past riding his motorcycle or playing games within his social environment.

My point is that this TV show has captured a type of person that doesn’t exist in any other show, but which we occasionally encounter in real life – someone who doesn’t have the need to question their actions. This is troubling, and we’re inclined to think that at some point House will see the error in his ways, apologize to everyone and marry one of the women with whom he has constant sexual tension, but this would be defeating the realism of his character, and I hope it never happens.

I hope the final episode of House shows no change in his person. As of now we believe that House’s years of personal development are behind him, and if he is to remain a realistic character, this must be the case. He’s not happy, and definitely doesn’t experience the fleeting moments of joy his friends might when they run around and repeatedly make personal and professional mistakes (as is the case with most characters on TV). He knows who he is, and he judges the world we live in while making no concessions. He’s not happy, he’s content.


6 Responses to “Gregory House: The Rarest and Most Realistic Character on Television”

  1. snowqueen Says:

    Having just emerged from watching 8 hours of House this weekend (I ordered series 1 from Amazon rental as I’d missed most of it) I agree with everything you say. House is by far the most interesting TV character for years (I remember Perry Mason being quite intriguing in my youth) Up there with Dirty Harry. Actually I think Hugh Laurie might have modelled himself on Dirty Harry for this part. Since watching series 1 I am wondering if it’s lost its way a bit though – nowadays there seems to be less of the subtlety and far too many crash carts and seizures.

    House plays the piano and is into monster trucks too!

  2. Irving Says:

    I like House the way he is too, and all the show’s character criticism of his behavior gets irritating. Leave the man be to practice medicine. I would want him as my Doc any day.

  3. snowqueen Says:

    err, Irving – surely the show’s character criticism is part of the entertainment? If he was just left to practice medicine it’d be a documentary. I’ve been thinking more about alphazero’s analysis of House as self-aware, I think you’re absolutely spot on – which is why he didn’t fall for Cameron’s advances though I think he did fancy her. I particularly like the paradox that he doesn’t like people but he fights for his patients and is unexpectedly kind. He never witholds his help or knowledge when faced with a person but tries to get out of clinic duty. The bit that people (in the series) find hard is when they try to make contact with him emotionally or try to figure him out or act as if they know him. He hates that. But he’s not emotionally illiterate either. He’s essentially a very private person. Fantastic characterisation.

  4. Kelsey Martineau Says:

    Excellent post. I agree with you 100% I fear that House is going to become more “human” for lack of a better term as Season 4 starts. To claim to have such a simple and evasive personal life though, he’s actually quite complex. For example, although he claims to be indifferent about Cameron, he wants her to continue to love him as we see the show progress.

    I know the show has taught me to be more aware of things. It’s something I think every human has the ability to do, but some either aren’t intelligent enough to do it, or just aren’t observant enough. I know to an extent, the show has changed me as a person. Either it’s good or bad, but it has taught me that humans truly cannot be trusted. “Everybody lies,” is truer than I ever thought it to be.

  5. nick Says:

    I think the real reason people like the show is the envious position house has attained. To be so good and so neccesary at what you do that you can drop the mask and be mean, nasty and degrading to others without much impunity. How House behaves and what he says is always gratifying to him. He sees the “doesn’t make sense” in kindness, politeness, false modesty.

    He himself said “I said I’m an addict, I DIDN’T say I had a problem”. Perfect.

  6. Liza Says:

    Hey, nice tips. I’ll buy a glass of beer to that person from that forum who told me to visit your blog 🙂

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