Thursday, June 10, 2010
This Is Huddy Do It
This post contains spoilers about the Season 6 finale of House, but it was three weeks ago, so you're probably OK.
Watching Drs. House and Cuddy kiss—for real—was damn satisfying on the season finale of House a few weeks ago. So satisfying, in fact, that it instantly got me asking, first, “What’s wrong with this picture?” and second, “How jaded am I that I would question a lovely scene like this?” Not to mention the way it was perfectly emblematic of the ideal romantic partnership—both parties sacrificed, gave, and took equally during those few minutes. That it also happened to bring to fruition a six-year-long foreplay session was just icing on the cake.
But then I figured it out: what that moment triggered within me was the recognition that a kiss like that had somehow become a completely foreign concept on television. That elusive je ne sais quoi I was struggling to put my finger on was the presence of romance. Pardon the cliché, but it has to be said: TV romance is (nearly) dead. Sure, we still have the cutesy hookups of new and old sitcoms like Cougar Town and How I Met Your Mother to fall back on, as well as the always interchangeable, always manipulated screw-lationships of Grey’s Anatomy, but as far as serious, mature programming goes, the romance dial is essentially stuck on one position: the sweaty, carnal, envelope-pushing, checking-behind-you-for-grandmother’s-whereabouts fuck fests of the wonder that is cable television. (The backyard scene on United States of Tara from the beginning of this season comes to mind.)
What happened to buying a gal dinner first? What happened to affection? Emotional intimacy, anyone? Nothing tugs at the heartstrings anymore. Call me crazy, but I don’t think it makes me too much of a girl to demand some occasional wooing in my nightly viewing. I mean, enough with these borderline rape-y, bend-her-over-a-table-while-heaving-threats “love” scenes—yes, Weeds, I’m talking to you. I love cable programming as much as the next person, but sometimes I really wonder if a misogynist writer didn’t sneak his way onto the Showtime team. It’s like, we get it: it’s all just biology and there’s nothing really sacred about two people coming together physically. Except… it’s not, and there is.
These shows, while well-crafted and cleverly penned, appear to lack a basic belief in love. If love is the higher power, they are the atheists of TV programming, endlessly attempting to convince their audience of the idiocy of romance by depicting increasingly depraved sex scenes more reminiscent of animalistic mating rituals than expressions of human desire. While many such scenes can be funny/charming/real/necessary in context, they nearly always point back to that ol’ bodily function—no, not shitting—sex (although they sure make it hard to distinguish between the importance of the two). I have no beef with sex, but I’m sick of seeing it get reduced to nothing more than an urge. Yes, lust is a real and beautiful thing, but these shows will have you believe that it is sex that bestows significance on love, instead of the other way around. No offense to atheists, but I’ll stick with my silly magic.
So when House and Cuddy, two of the most complex and grownup characters currently on TV, finally got around to being on the same page for the first time in six years, I repeat, I was satisfied. Even better, I was touched. I was touched by their words to each other, the way she helped him up off the floor (symbolism alert!), their barely-there kiss, all the way to the final shot of their tightly, desperately joined hands. (I mean, seriously, who holds hands while making out anymore? I literally had to fan myself.) There was nothing tantalizing or titillating about their coming together, yet it was the sexiest thing I’d seen all year—perhaps longer—on the small screen. And I didn’t need visual proof to know that, in the House universe, those two totally got their freak on after the screen went black.
And so I urge you, television gods—as an non-sentimental, even cynical woman who does not get weepy at weddings and often rolls her eyes at proposal stories, I urge you—do not let on-screen romance die. As much as it shocks me to say this, less D.H. Lawrence and more Jane Austen, please. Look, I too dig a raunchy scene now and again; I just wish you realized that doing the nasty doesn’t always have to be so, well, nasty.