Some television characters just shouldn’t be together. I don’t care how much unresolved sexual tension there is or how funny the witty banter is or how much chemistry the two characters have. There are just some “will-they or won’t-they” couples who should absolutely won’t—because once you take away that conflict, the show and the two characters’ interactions become uninteresting. And this is no more truer than for Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) and Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), whose relationship I’m still not over. Not only was it unnecessary, it ruined House by becoming the central focus of the show.
For four-plus seasons, we watched these two passionate doctors deal with their sexual tension by butting heads over everything from House’s questionable (but of course brilliant) techniques to whether or not the hospital should pay for House’s cable bill. To borrow Laurie’s words, ”there was always something flirtatious in their bickering.” Their flirtation was rather harmless and functioned mostly as comic relief. The characters didn’t take it seriously, and neither did the writers. There was chemistry, but it was never the focal point of the show. Despite their repartee and dynamic, the series was still about this cynical, misanthropic yet great diagnostician solving the world’s weirdest medical cases and goofing around with his best friend, the oncologist who put up with the former’s miserableness.
Something changed when House and Cuddy kissed in the fifth season episode, “Joy.” Slowly, but surely, the show started to become more and more about whether or not these two would get together, culminating with a hook-up in one of House’s Vicodin-induced hallucinations in the season finale. Then season 6 was all about House changing, trying to become a man that Cuddy could be with; in the season finale, they were officially a couple.
And then there was Huddy. And let me tell you—the seventh season was the worst season, highlighted by one moment that defined just how bad House and Cuddy were as a couple. In a drunken monologue at the end of the episode “Recession Proof,” House says to Cuddy:
I’ve made a decision. Being happy and being in love with you makes me a crappy doctor…You have made me a worse doctor and people are gonna die because of that. And… you are totally worth it. If I had to choose between saving everyone or loving you and being happy, I choose you. I choose being happy with you. I will always choose you.
Not only did their relationship make House a worse doctor, but it also made House a worse show. Once House and Cuddy got together, the show went from Sherlock-solving-medical-mysteries to Sherlock’s Anatomy. It took everything that was interesting about the show—Laurie’s performance, House and Wilson’s relationship, the medical cases—and made them secondary to whatever relationship drama House and Cuddy were having at the moment. Each week, the show beat the “what happens when your girlfriend is your boss?” question to death. And to be honest, the question wasn’t nearly as interesting as the writers had hoped; eventually the relationship’s story beats became even more redundant than the show’s medical cases. (Chase and Cameron’s courtship in the third season was more tolerable than this nonsense.) By making Huddy the center of the action, the show no longer stood out among the pack. It was just average, and that was one adjective never used to describe Dr. House.
Huddy still keeps me up at night because it didn’t need to happen. House could have kept going without bringing these characters together, and probably would’ve been the better for it. It’s clear that this pairing was unnecessary because the relationship did not add anything new to the show. Did the relationship reveal anything about House or Cuddy? No. Did it lead to any significant changes in the characters Definitely not. If anything, it highlighted just how tedious House’s proceedings had become.