Friday, September 19, 2008

House, MD: When Cranks Attract

It’s pretty easy to see the appeal in heroic men like I’ve posted about lately: your Mike Holmeses and Chicago Cubses. And most women get why bad boys can be charming—especially when, like Neil Gaiman, underneath the black clothes they are good at heart. But why is it that sometimes the most irresistible men are the cranks? Prickly, grumpy, unpleasant, off-putting...nevertheless these Mr. Rochester/Mr. Darcy types can be inexplicably sexy.

Case in point: everyone’s favorite misanthrope, Gregory House, M.D.

I’m only four years behind the rest of my fellow females in falling for this guy. I always knew I’d love the show, always knew Hugh Laurie was hot, always knew I am a sucker for grumps. But I didn’t have time for another TV show in my life. So occasionally I caught a few minutes here and there, barely preserving myself from catching that most infectious disease, House-ophilia. Unfortunately, a couple weeks ago Davie started watching the House marathons on USA and became addicted. In the spirit of family harmony (our daughters are already fans), I joined in watching the new season.

The inevitable happened: here I am blogging about House.

First of all, I don’t think House would be sexy if he weren’t a genius--specifically the sort of genius that he is. As the medical version of Holmes (Sherlock, not Mike), he seems to have a preternatural ability to know what is going on in your body. This talent is in sharp contrast to his emotional insensitivity, and sets up the recurring situation of your deciding House is deeply perceptive, only to be slapped back to reality by his latest heartless crack. (There’s nothing sexier that a guy who takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride, right?)

So, he does seem superhuman in a way, and I never tire of watching him intellectually blow others out of the water and outwit his enemies armed with analytical thinking and that rapier (scapel?) wit. It’s easy to end up all starry-eyed like Allison Cameron when House saves otherwise doomed patients week after week.

To make matters worse, Dr. House is vulnerable and arouses female sympathy. He’s got that chronic leg pain that causes his limp, a brilliant plot device that achieves said vulnerability while enabling him to look cool brandishing his cane. His addiction to Vicodin is constant proof of his fallibility. And then there’s the semi-dysfunctional but charming relationship he has with his best/only friend Dr. Wilson. The guy might as well have “Please love me, I’m so alone” stamped on his forehead.

There are few things more tempting to a female than a man who has the ability to appear invincible while clearly needing love, especially when his slightly-cracked armor is wit. I don’t know if the writers who conceived “House” were simply trying to create an interesting lead character, or deliberately set out to invent television’s most irresistible leading man, but they did a bang-up job on both.

And certainly the lion’s share of credit has to go to Hugh Laurie (I can’t even resent that he gets $400,000 an episode). It’s not easy to walk the borderline between crabby and beguiling, misanthropic and heroic, vulnerable and genius, unkempt and handsome, aggravating and loveable. And in an American accent no less. It’s a consistent performance that requires vocal skills, facial expressions, and body language to all be utilized perfectly. The proof of this role’s complexity can be demonstrated if you ask a female House fan why she is attracted to him.

Sometimes it’s the expression he gets while staring at his white board struggling with a diagnosis. Sometimes it’s the particular tone he uses while delivering those zingers. It can be the way he copes with challenges, or the way he so miserably fails to cope. Just watching House limp down a corridor while the soundtrack plays the closing music of an episode, you can be overwhelmed with complex feelings that ultimately boil down to love.

I should have known that keeping away from House was only postponing the inevitable. It’s not going to end up saving me any time having avoided the show for four I just have to watch all the episodes on DVR or DVD. Plus blog about the guy. Plus, I’m sure, write some short story inspired by him.

I should have known...cranks get me every time.


Cherie said...

I'm a sucker for the cranky guys too for some reason! I find it endearing.

(Love Hugh Laurie, too. :)

Diana Laurence said...

And yet, ironically, we both married nice guys! LOL

Cherie said...

Very true! Although mine does get as cranky as an 80-year old man sometimes. (You guys only see the happy side.) Still, he's a sweetie - I'd never trade him in!

Miss Organizized said...

And how awesome was your short story about the professor inspired by Dr. House?? EXTRA awesome with a side of really freaking awesome!

Diana Laurence said...

Aw, thanks, PreReader Katesi! (She speaks of the story "Professor Chambliss" in my upcoming collection, "Soulful Sex: The Darker Side." Coming in Spring 2009! End of commercial.

Callahan Clinton said...
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