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.


  1. Okay, while I have never been on board with the Huddy, I agree with your appeal. I too miss the relationships that took time and pain to make happen. I love me the Grey's Anatomy nonsense, but I really cared about Jim and Pam's relationship on The Office more and found it more satisfying. Great post!

    P.S. House with Cuddy is just gross...but i haven't seen seasons 5 & 6 so maybe something changed with Cuddy's desperate come-hither clothing and attitude. Does she actually have self-confidence now?

  2. I agree that the networks have eschewed romance to increase ratings. And when romance IS portrayed, it is cheesily and poorly done (ie. WE TV and Lifetime) so that we come to expect gritty, raunchy sex AFTER the wooing to make up for the cheese.

    Love the new blog! Keep 'em coming!

  3. And I thought I was the only one! Ok so I watched Spartacus, which strangely enough has its fair share of "love" entanglements. But nobody seems to care about the love part, which comes before and after what you so gracefully put as, "the nasty." I totally agree with you, and it's good to see someone with a little more writing skill put it up for everyone to see.

  4. @Artillery - I am obviously a big fan of Huddy, so I will ignore the way you so cruelly broke my heart on that front, but I will say that I, too, was a fan of Jim and Pam. Man, that one episode when Jim poured his heart out in the parking lot... Those just-watery-enough eyes! And she rejected him! Gah! But you're right: the "trial by fire" thing certainly makes the eventual hookup much more gratifying.

    @Dooglebug - I am not *too* familiar with "television for women", but as I can recall from my limited experience, the post-wooing "action" on those channels is just as cheesy as the romance itself, no? I seem to remember a lot of strategically placed satin sheets and candlelight for some reason.

    @brendan - I watched a few early episodes of Spartacus and, really, I am no stranger to cable sex, but I honestly thought Six Feet Under had covered everything. I even fancied myself unshockable, but there's certainly more gratuitous--let's say 'rooster'--on that show than I ever would have expected to see on TV, ever.

  5. @brendan, contd. - I forgot to mention before, that at least Spartacus does equal opportunity objectification on the nudity front, so I guess that's something. The feminist in me wants to say that turnabout is fair play, but the viewer in me just wants to roll her eyes a lot.

  6. I prefer my House miserable & lonely (from thence his lovely snark) but awesome write-up, Brandy!

  7. Oh, I am certain that House will never really be 'happy,' in the 'Hey, call me Greg!' sense, regardless of how long this relationship will last. But I am curious to see what kind of manfriend he is...

  8. alas, your coveted comment has arrived. funny story: I didn't read the post. I don't have television at my house, and haven't attempted to hulu house in a long time. thus, I will return when I have caught up some and can appreciate your pontification.

  9. Awesome,keep walking!!!