Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Did The House Season 7 Finale Endorse Domestic Violence?


Last night’s season finale of “House MD,” titled, “Moving On,” outraged me so that I feel compelled to write in my blog-thing.

Over seven seasons, Dr. Gregory House has done a lot of reckless, illegal and ethically questionable acts. But one thing he has never been is a domestic abuser and potential murderer. Until now.

The season finale, “Moving On,” besides being shabbily written—one could say that about most of the episodes—twisted the once brilliant, misanthropic genius into a brutal, abusive maniac. There is no kinder word for his behavior.

And his creator, David Shore, is defending that behavior.

House has certainly been verbally offensive over the years, acting out all of our fantasies of telling the people we hate to f-k off. However, incidents of physical violence have been few and far between. He punched Chase because House was detoxing from withdrawal. He had a fistfight with Alvie, his roommate, in “Broken,” the Season Six premiere. House provoked a patient’s father into punching him, giving him an excuse to push his cane against the man’s neck and thereby diagnose both the man and his dying son. Each act was considered extreme, to say the least, but NOTHING compared to the hideousness of last night.

A bit of background: House and Cuddy have had one of the most joyless romances in the history of television this season. When they finally broke up fans gave a universal sigh of relief. Most of the season played like an imitation of the once-brilliant “House, MD”. Shameless recycling of plots, patients of the week that one could not care less about, Masters, a spud-gun competition…the list goes on. However, the cast soldiered forth, trying to bring a spark of life to the ordure they were asked to shovel week after week.

But last night’s episode was simply unacceptable. Cuddy repeatedly asks House to tell her how he feels, that they need to have a conversation about their break-up. This might not be the smartest thing to do, and he refuses to talk to her.

Finally they sit down in the cafeteria, and when she tries to get him to open up, he walks out. She follows him, demanding he talk to her. He turns and pushes her violently against the wall, yelling, “You want to know how I FEEL?”

Bear in mind that House is approximately 6’3” and Lisa Cuddy is a slender 5’4”. She looks frightened, and rightfully so, but calms him enough to admit that he’s hurting. Like any abused wife, Cuddy forgives him.

Somehow isn’t this a tad reminiscent of a man beating his wife and then telling her, “Honey, I’m so sorry I did that, I love you so much”?

“Don’t worry, darling, it’s all my fault.”

Cuddy assures him she’s not dating anyone—why is it any of his business?

Then, in one of those turnarounds that only happen on television, she is set up with another man by her sister. House, in the meantime, is doing his best to numb his feelings with copious amounts of Vicodin. He remembers that Cuddy wants her hairbrush back. With his faithful sidekick Wilson, he drives to Cuddy’s house. He walks to the doorway. Only to see through the window that she is enjoying wine and cheese with her sister and two men, one of whom her sister set Cuddy up with.

Barging in and yelling would have been bad enough. Throwing things would have been bad enough. Threatening her life would have been bad enough.

But not enough for David Shore.

House gets into his car, pushes Wilson out of it, speeds away, and then a light bulb goes off in his head. With a squeal of tires, he turns and drives straight into her house, destroying much of it.

Creator David Shore said in an interview with Michael Ausiello early today:

DS: I’ve always thought House was capable of killing people close to him. [Laughs] That’s not to say he was ever going to do it, and I don’t think he would. And even in that moment, I don’t think he wanted to kill anybody. But who knows? Probably part of his mind did. It was a lashing out — a very extreme lashing out. I don’t think it was a murderous lashing out.

TVLINE But he could not have known that the dining room had cleared out.

DS: He saw them stepping out, didn’t he?

TVLINE I think they were mostly still around the table.

DS: They were standing up and she put his hand on [the new boyfriend's] arm, which was part of the whole thing that set him off. The car was aimed at the house, not at the individuals inside.

Source: http://www.tvline.com/2011/05/house-finale-post-mortem-season-7-spoilers/

If that isn’t the most cowardly, disingenuous explanation of House’s horrific behavior, I don’t know what is.

Cuddy’s three-year-old daughter Rachel might have been in there. He wouldn’t have seen her from the car. He could have killed or injured all four of them. House could have hit a retaining wall and brought a sizeable section of the house down onto the occupants. Cuddy and her guests could have been hurt by flying debris. The list goes on.

When an incident such as this happens in real life, it makes headlines on the local news. Do a web search for “vehicular manslaughter.”

Afterwards, House announces to his best friend, Wilson, that he feels much better, and is next seen sipping an umbrella drink on a tropical beach. David Shore has assured everyone that these events are not a hallucination, but real.

ETA: In the wake of universally bad reviews for this episode, the phrases "would-be assassin" and "attempted vehicular manslaughter" have come up repeatedly.

In another interview, this time with ew.com, Shore was asked:

I have to start off by asking, did House want to run over Cuddy and Co.?

DAVID SHORE: No. I think he was aiming at the house — not at the people. Obviously, he was taking a huge risk, but I don’t think he was trying to kill anyone off, but I think he was risking killing some people.

But this is David Shore’s world. It is a shame that such a brilliant mind would stoop to showing actions that will give defense lawyers ammunition for years to come. “Your honor, my client was aiming the frying pan at her collar, not her head.”

SHAME, for revealing just how misogynistic you are.
SHAME, for destroying a fascinating character by making him into a one-dimensional puppet.
SHAME, for reducing Cuddy to alternately a tear-stricken doormat or the Demanding Girlfriend from Hell.

And most of all:
SHAME, for implying that violence and destructive behavior are acceptable acts.

If you think I’m overreacting, your faithful correspondence doesn’t care.

Any more than David Shore does.



Visitkarte said...

Well, today we define even sitting on the train rails and so stopping the train from driving away as a violent act.

One time action while badly hurt doesn't necessarily qualify as domestic violence, if you ask me. DV is defined as a repeated action, not a single act. Even if you define House driving his car in Cuddy's home as DV, I don't think he wanted to intimidate her, he rather wanted to stop her from hurting him again by coming again near him.

Cuddy was violent to House so many times, I've lost count. I already named this occasions, like the tripwire, the stolen cane, sending him driving for hours to her sister’s home at Thanks Giving... I could go on and on and on. She crushed him and made him feel worthless, not lovable, she broke his heart over and over again. She kept on saying how selfish and non feeling he was, how screwed up he was, how she deserved better than him, how he did everything to avoid feeling pain because he didn't want to get attached... That's violence, too. People have killed themselves for lesser reasons.

Mad Fashionista said...

I will not go tit-for-tat on this topic or we'll be here all night.

Suffice to say, as Eleanor Roosevelt did: "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Anonymous said...

Cuddy had been asking House to 'let go' off his anger as had been Wilson for the last few episodes. So when House finally does let go off his 'pent up' anger, everyone cries foul. Yes what he did is criminal but he knows that; which is why he leaves the country ASAP!

The show started on a downward spiral when this whole 'Huddy' mess started & now I hope they go back to the roots when it was so much better... Love that Cameron & now Cuddy are out of the show!

Anonymous said...

You are fucking stupid. There is no way you can honestly believe House was aiming for the people in the House. House never "abused" Cuddy. The way you throw that term out demeans everyone who have been abused. You're a fucking idiot.

Dave said...

This is a good point. Cuddy gave House plenty of chances (see that ep where he's drunk in Lucas's house and tells him that.)

Now House is hurting, and instead of taking responsibility for his own inability to trust other people, he blames it on Cuddy.

Also, I agree about how Cuddy has been reduced as a character. She was wonderfully written for 6 seasons; as soon as "Huddy" relationship started, they started writing her so differently. She was completely out of character for almost all of Season 7. As far as I'm concerned, Cuddy left the show a year ago.

geraldine said...

I thought House slamming into the house was a great metaphor for someone who has hit the wall. Literally and figuratively. He was a little boy lost and had a moment of great clarity when he made the decision to do what he did. I don't think he was suicidal,domestic abusive or homicidal. It seems to me just like something House would do if given the opportunity. The fact he ended up at a beach was a nice twist.

BTW: I absolutely agree with Visikarte about Cuddy. She isn`t a saint either. I allways thought she showed more symptoms of being a abuser (physically and psychological) than house ever did.

Mad Fashionista said...

Cuddy has never been a saint, and she has treated House badly. But does she deserve to be almost killed? I think not.

Mad Fashionista said...

To those who have been triggered by this entry, I am deeply sorry for your suffering.

Fat Chic said...

I've worked as a domestic abuse victim's advocate. The signs are clearly there, and I'm concerned about the uptick in casual misogyny I'm seeing here and elsewhere, especially the logic that Cuddy deserves to be punished because, in many other times in their relationship, she DARED TO FIGHT BACK.

Signs of a dangerous/abusive personality, for Gregory House
1)Addiction - check
2)Blaming others - check
3)Avoiding responsibility - check (to the tune of a desert freaking island)

The list goes further, and I'd be happy to point you to a power and control abuse wheel.

Cuddy has not done any of the above, not even blaming House even when he is at fault, because she knows she's responsible for engaging him. House has not returned the circumstances and is just as abusive to Wilson as he is to Cuddy - but he feels bad about it when he ticks off men, whereas women he expects to "just take it."

Anonymous said...

Look, I hate Cuddy. She's totally self-centered and has been horrible for House (and I could go on).

So what?

I don't care if she's the Queen of Mean, she doesn't deserve to be treated that way. The law does not protect only people we like or only 'good' people, but all people.

Driving a car into someone's home is wrong. Aiming it at the room you just saw her and three bystanders in is even more wrong.

Attempted murder is not cool or sexy or okay for miserable geniuses having a really bad day. It's for assholes who belong in prison.

En Bouton said...

As someone who's watched House for seven years, I was appalled by what House did in the finale. I'm even more appalled by the people who are defending it. Cuddy has treated House badly, and she has acted selfishly, but none of that comes remotely close to justifying House's actions.

Yes, I think driving a car into someone's house qualifies as a violent, abusive act. I'm stunned that that is even up for debate.

There have always been problematic aspects to House's character, but the finale crossed a line for me; what he did to Cuddy was both reprehensible and dramatically out of character. If, as David Shore says, it was all "real", I'm not sure how much longer I will be following the show.

Mad Fashionista said...

Fat Chic, you have hit the nail on the head. Over the years fans have repeatedly complained about how ineptly the show writes their female characters.

And yes, when he hurts Wilson, he wants to make sure they're "okay." But with Cuddy, he sees no need to do so.

Scooter92 said...

Sheesh! Apparently House isn't the only crazy one out there.

I am amazed that some people here think there can be an excuse for driving a car into a house filled with people. Ever.

I think the 'worst comment award' clearly goes to Visitkarte who thinks sending House to Cuddy's sister's house at Thanksgiving (when he told Wilson he was out to screw up Cuddy's romance with Lucas) or stupid tripwires pranks (remember too that he exploded her toilet with a sledgehammer) means she deserves to die. And her sister, sister's husband, new date and possibly Rachel and nieces and nephews.

I fervently hope two things:

1. That Visitkarte doesn't date anyone. Afterall, he/she might get attached to that person and then if they break up, Vistitkarte might decide they deserve to die because his/her heart was broken.

2. That Visitkarte doesn't own a car.

Anonymous said...

The misogyny of "House" has always been troubling, but I feel that this finale has really put an exclamation point on it all.

I do think that from the first season this show has had a strong anti-woman streak in it. The horrid treatment of nurses, such scorn and disdain for a noble group of people, was evident from the start. The isolation and constant belittlement of Cuddy was also troubling, but we dismissed our concerns because it was House being House and Hugh was so cute when he uttered those repeated insults to her. We "knew" he loved her because he was so relentlessly rude to her.

Cameron was mocked for her very female traits of caring, empathy, and consideration for the ethics of each situation. Her softer qualities, her tender heart, her real concern for House as well as her understandable crush on him were all mocked repeatedly.

House's mother was the beginning of it all, as we are told. She (like many other women on this show) was an adultress and a liar. She compounded that original sin by failing spectacularly to protect her sensitive only child from her abusive husband. In this view, women are untrustworthy in their two most fundamental roles, as wife and mother. (And I am not even going to get into the child-devouring shrews that were Cuddy's mother and sister. The only kind, loving and honest female on the show was a three year old child, Rachel.)

House’s use of prostitutes was presented as an understandable distraction to help him cope with his physical and emotional pain, sort of like vicodin but with real flesh and blood and souls. Amber was a “cutthroat bitch” for being a smart, tough no-nonsense woman. She died because she cared enough about her boyfriend to try to take care of his irresponsible friend. Thirteen was a glamorous lesbian who only got into relationships with women as a way of distracting herself from her fears about her health. She was, naturally, the butt of many of House’s jokes about her sexuality. Foreman got to impose his leadership/boss/insecurity issues on her during their brief relationship.

Wilson's feminine qualities are the source of much joking by House as if it is somehow unacceptable for a male to enjoy cooking or keeping a neat home. Wilson the Caring is another constant theme, in which House's authentic masculinity is juxtaposed against Wilson's pseudo femininity. Of course, with all his female temperament, Wilson can't maintain a relationship with an actual female and gets discarded by them when he caves to their wishes or finds a new model wife to acquire. Women are as disposable as Kleenex in this world, it seems.

This season we have had continuing story lines of Chase and Taub as joyless sexual predators. The women they bed seem clueless and not really very discerning: why anyone would willingly want to sleep with Taub has never been explained. Now we have not one but two adult professional woman who have gotten themselves into unplanned pregnancies with Taub! How stupid are women supposed to be?

And how conniving? House's green-card bride Dominicka takes the cake as the insultingly underdeveloped portrayal of a woman who used House for her own purposes with no regard for her own dignity. She is a spiritual sister to Lydia, who also used House for her own needs with no regard for his fragile state as an incarcerated mental patient, for heaven's sake.

There is obviously no excuse for House’s assault on Cuddy’s home. This was domestic violence at its clearest and nothing Cuddy said, did, implied, threatened, or promised was a justification for House ramming his car into her home. He didn’t care if he lived or died and he didn’t care if she or Rachel did either.

With Lisa leaving the show, we will now have only one woman in the regular cast, and I have to assume that OW will continue to pursue her red hot movie career and make herself absent for much of the coming season. The devolution of "House" into a misogynistic celebration of male immaturity and violence will be complete.

Anonymous said...

I think some people should get a room, stay a away from the House-fandom and take breaths.
I`m shocked about the massive reaction a Tv-show about a fictional character. People, it is fiction, not reality. I don`t remember there was ever any Tv show supposed to be realistic.

I don`t think that anybody here incl. Visitekarte wants to imply that cuddy deserves to die. But i get an idea what she is implying. You rage against House but Cuddys actions were okay? Hm..i smell hypocrisy, abuse is abuse in my book. You can`t defend one abusive behaviour but the other is bad. Where is the logic here?

I´ve watched the finale too and thought not for one minute that house wanted to kill Cuddy. I saw too that they left the room and felt that House was still aware about his action. He just wants to unfold his energy, like when some people throw vases or plates when they feel helpless and defended. I admit House did it in an extreme way. I gasped too and it is a tragedy.
However House was allways an extreme character in every life situation (in practicing medicine,addiction and Love etc) and after seven years you all should know it.

BTW I don`t think that DS condones domestic violence in real life. He just wanted to explain why house did what he did, nothing more and nothing less. There is no reason to take his words personal or you have to fear for his family.
Furthermore I´m sure House will face consequences for his actions. We should wait for season 8.
Maybe some people not,from what i`ve read here and on a another board i have the feeling some people take this Tv show (fiction) way too serious. IMO.

Mad Fashionista said...

Anonymous (I do with people would comment with an ID), television often rides the zeitgeist. Or creates it. If her partner had punched Kirstie Alley during a performance, it would have made a tremendous fuss. Even if one found out she was a regular Naomi Campbell in rehearsals. Not the best metaphor, my apologies.

The vehemence of your response suggests that you also take this fiction way too serious.

Ron said...

I think you're upset for no reason. It's never implied House's act was acceptable. Perhaps the beach scene could be interpreted that way, but common sense should lead anyone down to your basic thought process. "Character X did a morally reprehensible thing, therefore I do not like Character X" is a far cry from "Character X did a morally reprehensible thing, therefore the author advocates such behavior."

Visitkarte said...

Anonimous said:

I don`t think that anybody here incl. Visitkarte wants to imply that cuddy deserves to die. But I get an idea what she is implying. You rage against House but Cuddy’s actions were okay? Hm… I smell hypocrisy, abuse is abuse in my book. You can`t defend one abusive behaviour but the other is bad. Where is the logic here?

THAT was my point. I never condoned violence but Cuddy’s abuse never seemed to disturb you. Only when House snapped, for the first time ever doing something that might hurt Cuddy physically, and everyone thinks he can never be redeemed after that. It is hypocritical, and I will address it.

What House did was violence, a crime. But it was not domestic abuse, because that’s not how domestic abuse presents itself. He even possesses a lot of properties of a typical “wife beater”: He has at least one addiction, rationalizes his addiction, he tends to do binge drinking and even tries to get in bar brawls (but funny enough tries to get himself beaten up, not really to do the beating). But none of this had anything to do with his crime of passion. He wasn’t drunk when he did what he did, and while stoned, I don’t think the Vicodin made him unhinged… I think, if anything, it calmed him. And he wasn’t in withdrawal, which might have made him aggressive.

He never tried to isolate Cuddy, tell her how she depended on him, tell her she could never get employed without him, he never was able or willing to control her finances and keep her on a short leash, he never tried to threaten her or blackmail her into keeping quiet about his deeds, he never told her she was week, worthless and no one but him could love her… Oh wait, who has ever shown such manipulative-controlling behavior? Wait, it wasn’t House, it was… It slipped my mind…

House pressed Cuddy at the wall, but didn’t hurt her physically in any way. Yes, he intimidated her, but he wanted her to stop pestering him. And she got his hopes up only to hurt him again and again.

I can understand his reaction, Understanding has nothing to do with condoning a behavior. I would have no problems with condemning him to serious jail time, but I would still respect him for his good deeds, too.

I can understand his reaction, Understanding has nothing to do with condoning a behavior. I would have no problems with condemning him to serious jail time, but I would still respect him for his good deeds, too.

Mad Fashionista said...

I would refer you to Fat Chic's comment above.

The point of the entry is not Cuddy's behavior toward House. She may have given as good as she got, but she never tried to kill him.

An overwhelming number of reviews have talked about House possibly killing the occupants, David Shore has said House is capable of killing someone. The finale might have been meant to be shocking and controversial, but it obviously crossed the line for a great many viewers.

I find it slightly ironic, because the finale posted lower ratings than the other H season finales.

Mad Fashionista said...

He never tried to isolate Cuddy, tell her how she depended on him, tell her she could never get employed without him, he never was able or willing to control her finances and keep her on a short leash, he never tried to threaten her or blackmail her into keeping quiet about his deeds, he never told her she was week, worthless and no one but him could love her… Oh wait, who has ever shown such manipulative-controlling behavior? Wait, it wasn’t House, it was… It slipped my mind…

It was his employer.

Visitkarte said...

Sorry, my place run short. Here is the second part:

How you manage to make his beautiful: It’s not your fault to sound like abusers manipulation, I can’t wrap my mind around it. He absolved her of her guilty feelings, and of course he had the right to ask her if she was dating anyone just like she had the right to answer it or not. She even might have tried to be honest, telling him that her sister tries to get her together with a new boyfriend. That would have lightened the mood significantly, because it’s a thing House had done more than once for Wilson, he could have related to that. But she told him she didn’t and she didn’t sound like she was over him. Can you blame House for getting his hopes up and feeling let down?

House never wanted to kill anyone in the room, he probably never expected to end up in the room with the car. He wanted to smash his car on the wall of her home and the room was empty.

I can understand his reaction, Understanding has nothing to do with condoning a behavior.

Jesus had a lot of friends who have done bad things in their lives and forgave them because they felt sorry. I’m sure House will feel sorry for causing his friends hurt, but at the same time, he won’t feel sorry that he alienated them, especially not for alienating Cuddy, because, I think he protected both himself AND, in a weird way, Cuddy, from coming near each other in any romantic way, like ever. If he has to serve time for it, so be it.

But I think he is in no hurry to surrender to the police, he is enjoying his new life, free of all hope and friends who all tattered him to his old miserable live full of hope for life that was never going to be his. And like he does with his Vicodin abuse, that is giving him pain control in every sense and is very likely to kill him sooner than later, he tries to enjoy this expensive moments of freedom, too, as long as they last. That’s how I understood his smile at the end.

When House smiles, something is wrong -DS-

Mad Fashionista said...

You're equating House with Jesus?

Good thing Jesus never got mad at angry at anyone when he was at the wheel of a donkey cart.

SRSLY said...

Seriously? All you people defending House' action and how he rammed his car on Cuddy's wall, are you seriously in your right minds? Sure House MD is a fiction and House is a fictional tv character and Cuddy is too but then again David Shore is implicating a domestic violence is an OKAY response for a BREAKUP. SERIOUSLY? And visitkarte, WHEN AND WHERE DID JESUS got equalled to HOUSE? House has no God. So you should not dare compare him. In what parts of your twisted brains is it okay to agree with House and what he's done? Cuddy never intended to kill HOUSE with all she's done in the past. Did she deserve to be scared out of her wits with what House did? No. When in fact, Cuddy had always helped House even when she knew her job as well would be on the line for hiring an addict, malpractice driven doctor like House. Okay speaking professionally, Cuddy had been there for House. Personally speaking she may have hurt him too many times. But then again SHE DID NOT ASK FOR IT. I just want to see all you defending his action and happen to you in real life having a enraged ex-bf of yours drive his car on your house. Yep. I'd like o see that and see what your reaction will be. So yes this is fiction and you guys could APPLY IT TO YOUR OWN REAL LIVES. and see what your reaction would be

Mad Fashionista said...

Bravo! I couldn't have said it better, dahling.

Visitkarte said...

I never equaled House with Jesus, I equaled him with the sinners.

Jesus was able to forgive every sin, he surrounded himself with sinners and could love them in spite of their vices. Why shouldn’t I be able to forgive one impulsive move of a fictional character? Since when was forgiving a sin?

I'm leaving the blog now and not returning.

J said...

House was in so much mental pain that he snapped, and in a rage commited an incredibly violent, dangerous act. To House the possible consequences of his actions - the death or injury of himself or other innocent people - was at that moment not enough to constrain a rage inside himself, against the world, that had built up for months... years... probably from his abused childhood. House had never commited such an act before, and while he did not intend on killing anyone, he very well could have.

The writers and David Shore are exploring and trying to explain the mind and actions of a man who is very mentally ill. Showing a him commiting acts of violence - from pushing Cuddy against the wall to driving a car into her house - does not mean they condone such violence.

Just because a disclaimer doesn't pop up at the bottom of the screen each time a character does something abusive, cruel, or immoral doesn't mean the writers believe that behavior is normal or acceptable.

So just because they showed us this painful scenario through House's eyes doesn't mean the writers think his actions are excusible. If anything, through Cuddy's lines, they tell us that they also see that House deserves to be "thrown in jail."

Mad Fashionista said...

All I can say to this is that I hope you don't have children.

Anonymous said...

I just found this discussion, I know it is long over but.. it's just so silly. Do all of our movie and television characters need to behave in a completely moral and non abusive way? This would cut short a lot of story telling. I also think it's completely unfair to end on 'I hope you don't have children'. A terrible and personal attack when you are discussing a fictional television character who has always been portrayed as troubled and willing do to do things that skirt good taste.