February 10, 2010

The Most Randian Character on TV

Don't know how many watch "House M.D." My lovely bride and I have been big fans of Hugh Laurie from his BBC days, and we secretly wait for Stephen Fry to do a guest appearance on House.

Ann Althouse once cheered that the drug-addict doctor was the hero over the zealous narcotics officer. For the last couple of years, I've become convinced that Dr. Gregory House is lifted from an undiscovered Ayn Rand novel. He is preternaturally intelligent -- to which he owes all his success; he is self-focused to an amount that disturbs everybody else on the show; he is dedicated to disproving quackery, junk science, new age spirituality and questioning seriously held religious beliefs.

And Laurie is a brilliant actor, whose comedy chops keep this prickly character entertaining. The show's flaw is that the rest of the cast is thin and hollow. His oncologist friend Dr Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) has his moments, but there's no ensemble of any kind to play on.

Last Monday's episode, therefore, had two fatal flaws. It was built around the hospital's COO, Dr. Lisa Cuddy. That turned out okay, but not memorable.

Secondly, I wonder how many House fans are sympathetic to his Randian nature (like me) and how many (like me) were perturbed by the anti-business tilt of the episode, Yesterday’s Ayn Rand Facebook link was a talk on "America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business."

Our brave Dr. Cuddy has to manage her adopted baby, her creepy husband, the weight of the world on the sisterhood, and then has to negotiate a contract with an (duh-duh-duuuuh!) evil insurance company (boo, hiss!)

She's just tryin' to get her doctors paid, but the grubby CEO, who won't interrupt his lobster lunch to speak with her, won't give his monthly budget for olives on his yacht to save children's lives! Thankfully she wins in the end to be cheered in the board room (are you sick yet? Dr. House could figure it out...)

I hope we're back to Reason next week.

Television Posted by John Kranz at February 10, 2010 12:02 PM

Gee whiz, thanks for the non extant spoiler alert! We're a few weeks behind on House (and 24 and ...) because dagny's working busy-season hours. Personally I wonder how many House fans are consciously aware of his Randian nature and still like the show in spite of it. I'm willing to bet the majority of regular viewers are most enthralled with his unapologetic veracity. "Damn, I wish I could get away with that!"

We'll probably be throwing things at the screen during this episode. Thanks for the warning - I'll remove sharp objects from the room.

Final note: Cuddy's "husband" is actually just a boyfriend, right? Or have I not seen the wedding episode too?

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2010 3:08 PM

Sorrrr-reeee...

Boyfriend, yes. We thought they'd get married last week after Foreman ate the bad shushi and they were both drunk at his funeral, but no.

Wait a minute, how many weeks were you behind?

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2010 3:15 PM

What you call Randian I call narcissistic and anti-social. See the DSM-IV, soon to be DSM-V. But I agree, there's not much else for Hugh Laurie to play against; Jesse Spencer is the strongest actor of the rest of the lot and he doesn't get much screen time lately. Omar Epps makes odd, not necessarily interesting, choices with his line deliveries, Lisa Edelstein has three stock expressions to suit every occasion, and Olivia Wilde does what she's there to do, rile up the adolescent male viewership. If not for RSL, Hugh Laurie would be hauling this thing around by himself.

Posted by: rewriter at February 11, 2010 9:00 PM

Any good capitalist will tell you, never waste more on COGS (cost of goods sold) than is needed to achieve a high volume of sales. In this case, COGS = acting talent.

Posted by: johngalt at February 12, 2010 3:09 PM | What do you think? [4]