Did a television show really change my life? If I want to get philosophical about it — and why not get pretentious about something as supposedly trivial as television? — I can look at the question in a couple of different ways.
With predestination, there is only one possible outcome. So maybe some other show or some other sequence of events not – gasp – involving television would have inevitably led my life to the same place.
With chaos theory, a seemingly insignificant event can have a huge impact on an outcome. A butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil and changes the atmosphere enough to cause a sequence of events that eventually generates a tornado in Texas. So maybe House really was the initial condition that led to my life being filled with new people and experiences.
I, along with a certain fictional character I know, subscribe to the philosophies of science over faith, so I’m more comfortable with option B.
In any case, after three years, my real life has been undeniably influenced by the show about the fictionally rational doctor. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean I walk with a limp, pop Vicodin, or use caustic sarcasm as a weapon. Much.
At its best, television is our entry point into another world, one that distracts us temporarily from the troubles in our own world or gives us another perspective on real-life issues. House has been both those things for me. But in saying it's changed my life, I don't mean the comfort I've felt every week, being able to escape into this world of familiar characters who entertain me and make me think.
What I do mean is that there's a whole "hip bone connected to the thigh bone" thing going on. Or maybe it's a "butterfly connected to the tornado" thing. House led to me wanting to talk about the show when no one I knew was watching, which led me to Internet forums and writing about the show for Blogcritics, which led to me covering other TV-related events like the Banff World Television Festival, which led to me creating a site to promote Canadian television.
The side effect of all those online activities has been to bring actual human beings into my life, freed from their pixelated existence, free to brighten my days with love, laughter, and a lot of TV talk. I can trace a best friend and a boyfriend, a cool circle of acquaintances, hobbies, job leads, and vacations circuitously back to House, especially back to writing about the show.
It's been a blast, it’s been surreal, it’s been … a commitment. So I’ve decided to retire from writing weekly episode reviews. That doesn’t mean I’m done with House, or that it’s done with me. I’ll continue to watch and obsess and write, just not as often or at such close range. Then, I can focus on writing about all the other random thoughts that collide in my brain, and on all the other activities in my life, including those House has brought into it, directly or indirectly.
To get back to chaos theory, a change in initial conditions would have meant an entirely different path. Maybe if I’d gotten obsessed with CSI I'd be in jail now. Maybe if my show of choice had been Grey’s Anatomy I would have ended up winning the lottery and bought an island in the South Pacific. Maybe if I didn't watch TV at all, I would have cured cancer. Who knows. All I know is that House did change my life and I'm grateful for it. I'd have been more grateful for a tropical island, but this'll do.
Season four of House starts Tuesday, September 25 at 9 p.m. on FOX, or Global in Canada.Powered by Sidelines