It’s been several years in the making, but this year “Huddy” will happen on House, M.D. That is, House (Hugh Laurie) and Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) are about to embark on a relationship. According to the show’s Powers That Be, the two will really try to travel this road, fraught though it may be with potholes and other obstacles (including, I’m sure, House’s considerable issues and attitudes).
Season six ends with the camera focused on House and Cuddy’s clasped hands as they embrace standing in House’s bathroom. Nearly a mirror image of House’s season five delusion about Cuddy in “Under My Skin,” Cuddy once again rescues House from the depths of despair, this time with a simple declaration of her love, and more significantly this time for real.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think the House brain trust initially intended for House and Cuddy to wind up together six years after House’s “thin line between love and hate” rant in “Occam’s Razor.” House doth protest too much when Wilson suggests there’s something more than antagonism between House and his boss, hence the “thin line.” House retorts that this metaphorical line is long, deep, and quite heavily guarded.
No matter House’s feelings toward Cuddy at the beginning of season one, television characters often take on lives of their own (sometimes much to the chagrin of the writers and authors who create them), and here we are. The X-Files creator Chris Carter insisted for years that any sparks flying between Mulder and Scully were purely incidental and no romance had ever been intended for the FBI partners. But a mystical ingredient called “chemistry” happened between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson and unresolved sexual tension replaced any other sort of tension between the characters. The characters took on lives of their own, and (for better or worse) at times it drove the series narrative almost as right alongside aliens and the “the consipiracy.”
Some fans (a minority, in my opinion, but a significant minority) are afraid of this thing House creators David Shore and Katie Jacobs have released, calling it the series death knell, the jumping of the proverbial shark (and much worse). But I trust the immense creativity of the writing team to maintain a light touch on this relationship. And by light, I mean not fluffy, but handled gently. I also trust Hugh Laurie not to ever make House too happy, too healed or too hopeful. And I trust Lisa Edelstein to relish the relationship, but not to let Cuddy get too starry-eyed.
The series writers have often played with the conditionality of love; it’s something about which House is certain. “All love is conditional,” House argues in “Son of Coma Guy.” Sometimes we just don’t know where the boundaries lie. House is pretty certain by the end of season six that Wilson’s love is unconditional, and he tells his psychiatrist in “Baggage” he can say anything to Wilson, knowing that he won’t abandon their friendship. That friendship has withstood quite a lot, especially with House’s need to test its boundaries: Amber’s death, House’s incessant game playing and manipulation, and interference in Wilson’s love life. House’s love for Wilson has also withstood a lot of battering, mostly from Wilson’s sometimes destructive meddling and manipulation.
As the relationship between House and Cuddy is about to heat up exponentially, I wonder what the future holds for these two characters. Will they mesh or will it end up being a mess? Will their relationship burn bright, burst into a chrysanthemum of fireworks and catastrophically crash, destroying their personal and professional relationship? Or will it do a slow burn, heat up and settle in, rewoven into the fabric of the series narrative?