House: Humpty Dumpty

I’ve been a fan of Lisa Edelstein since Sports Night, so I was happy last night to see a re-run of House that featured her character (Cuddy) more than usual. Several random, scatteredn observations:

Cuddy, the hospital administrator, involved herself in the diagnosis and care of a patient, and screwed up all over the place on this case. At the end House (the unrepenting realist) explained to Cuddy that it was her idealism which had blinded her from making the right calls. On most shows, it would have warped into “Overly Emotional Female Recognizes Natural Superiority of Big, Brave Man”. Instead, this was a simple case of one person stepping into another person’s area of expertise, and not doing as good a job as the expert. Duh! As House pointed out, Cuddy’s idealism may make her less of a doctor, but it’s what makes her a great administrator.

Woohoo, Cameron finally figured out how to tell a patient he’s dying, something her sweet little stuffed animal personality has been struggling with and pawning off on the guys for a while now: blab it right in front of his mom on the assumption the woman doesn’t understand English any better than she speaks it. Way to go, Cameron – not. You think I’m going to bitch about how she represents women? Cameron represents The Beautiful, as does Chase the pretty boy. Because Chase does even stupider things than Cameron, a viewer would have to be pretty cynical to take Cameron’s silliness as an indictment against women. She and Chase are both a dig at Pretty Shiny White People, and the invisible privilege that leaves these folks childlike and useless from lack of challenge – everyone rushing to lay roses on the road before them. Foreman – who is worlds better-looking than either of them to me, but alas, African American – is by far the most competent member of House’s team, because no one’s ever paved his way. He’s managed to get what he earned, while Chase and Cameron are still trying to earn what they got.

Joy of joys, When Cuddy was jogging, she didn’t have makeup on. Maybe I’m the only person around who wants to squash a makeup artist with my TV set every time I see a woman emerge from the shower, swimming pool, bed or morning jog with an Emmy award-winning makeup job. It’s just further evidence that pretty is more important than realism when it comes to women characters, because they’re only there for eye candy. For cryin’ out loud, a male actor’s “no makeup” makeupjob involves the same amount of foundation, powder, blush, concealer, subtle lipstick, mascara, brow glaze/color and eye shadow as a female’s. It’s just the final step that’s different: the women get eyeliner and some clearly unnatural color, while the men get Vaseline in the areas where skin naturally shines. Cuddy got the shine around her mouth and eyes instead of the color, so kudos to the makeup artist.

And House’s utterly gratuitous search of Cuddy’s bedroom and underwear drawer was just hysterical.

I have to say, I see a lot of parallels between this show and Stargate, including the potential to degrade into a collection of shallow stereotypes. But so far, so good.


  1. scarlett says

    This reminds me of a post I made a few weeks ago about Brad Chase from Boston Legal, abut how the patriarchy had tripped over itself to hand him oppurtunities because he’d been born white and beautiful, that he had no emotyional immunity, no ability to meet challenges.
    Chase and Cameron are sterotypical, but House looks beyond the stereotypes and (in my interpretation, at least) looks at the fact that they’re vain and shallow because they’ve never had to be anything else.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Yep, you’re right. I wonder if the pathos of privilege is getting to be a trend on TV right now? Hmm… here in the US, younger generations have a tougher road than some of the previous ones. Maybe they think the target demographic wants to see that privilege has its disadvantages. Which would be one of those rare cases where I’d say “good call”. I mean, it’s true, and it’s good story.

    As for House looking beyond stereotypes… exactly. In the first ep, he tells Cameron she could’ve been a model or the wife of a rich guy, had it very easy. She chose to push herself, and that interests him. Same deal with Chase, who comes from money.

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