Farewell, House. Hello, Bliss.

Last night I did something I don’t often do–I stopped everything I was doing to watch a television show. I put the boy to bed, poured a glass of wine, liberated a box of dark chocolate, raspberry cookies from the cupboard, settled on the couch, and watched the final two episodes of HOUSE.

I came to the show as a huge fan of Hugh Laurie, an English comedian, musician, and actor. For HOUSE, he transformed himself into a deeply emotionally crippled yet brilliant American doctor. There were several episodes during which I had to leave the room because I felt uncomfortable with what was going on on the screen. Too much tension, too much opportunity for self-destruction and disaster. I don’t want to go into spoiler territory because I know many people haven’t seen the show at all. I predict it that it will have a very bright future in syndication–it’s already available on DVD.

HOUSE is an eight season long character study. There was much speculation in the early years of the show that Gregory House was a sociopath. I met one of the show’s writers at a mystery conference in Chicago. During his presentation, he said that the character of Gregory House could never change. In some ways, I think that assumption/direction is what kept the show on for so long. There were changes in the character–but they were in his self-awareness, not necessarily his actions. The other characters grew around him, looking for and hoping for sweeping, visible changes in House’s behavior. They were pretty much always disappointed. In the series finale, the essence of House’s humanity is stripped bare and revealed–but when the revelation came, I realized that the revelation had been there in front of me the whole time.

I’m going to miss that show a lot.

______

For the next couple of days, I’m getting comfortable again with my WIP, Bliss House. I haven’t added anything new to it in months, and I don’t want to make any major edits until I’m reoriented. It’s almost like revisiting a dream. The hallways are familiar, but my footing is unsure. The good news it that it feels great. I’m liking the story a lot, and the characters have solidified a bit since I left them alone for a while. But it’s time for us all to get back to work. I should have it completed and revised before the end of August–just in time for Agent Susan to read it and start sending it out to tanned and refreshed editors. That’s a while away, though. Right now I just want to make sure it’s a good story–one that you’ll be glad you’ve read when the time comes.

Happy Wednesday–hope it’s a beautiful one where you are!

2 thoughts on “Farewell, House. Hello, Bliss.”

  1. Lyzz says:

    Hi, Laura – thanks for this thoughtful piece on a favorite character. You mentioned having to leave the room a few times. I had to leave the room permanently after the car/dining room incident. I just couldn’t love House anymore. My love for him it turns out – was conditional. Our unspoken “deal” was that no matter what he did to the adults around him, I’d cheer for him, as long as no children were harmed. Not knowing, or worse yet, not caring whether Cutty’s daughter was seated at that table, broke our “pact.” That said, I know I’ve missed a good last season. I wonder if someday I’ll make peace with him enough to enjoy watching that season? I’m trying to remember when this has happened in a novel, for surely it has. Is there a difference in the level of tolerance we have for bad behavior in literary vs. film characters? Doesn’t this make creating (and sustaining) a sympathetic character with lethal flaws like walking a tightrope?

  2. Lyzz, I think they lost a LOT of viewers with the car-in-the-dining-room episode. It really was an act of unbelievable selfishness on the character’s part. But I really think that was the point when there were some recognizable shifts in his character–I confess that I found the following episodes even more compelling.

    Writers who are unwilling to take risks with their characters end up writing predictable fiction. Comfort food fiction that usually sells. Big risks can either pay off big time or people may walk away, as you did.

    The concept of a “pact” is so critical, don’t you think? And interesting that each pact is unique to the viewer or reader. That’s a huge responsibility for the writer. It’s one I’ve really learned the hard way. : )

Leave a Reply