I’ve finally had the time to re-watch House, M.D.‘s seventh season in its entirety, no breaks or commercials). I tried to understand the arc of the House-Cuddy relationship—where and when it is good for them, and how it falls disastrously apart.
Do I wish that House and Cuddy had stayed together longer?Yes. There were many ways the narrative might have gone. Their relationship might have played out behind the scenes to the final episode of the series, with only an occasional reminder.
The story might have ended less abruptly—a mutual understanding that “it will never work out.” House might have chosen something less physically destructive to finally “express his anger.” On the other hand, as both Cuddy and Wilson fear throughout the finale, House’s emotions are so intense and so internalized they simply explode recklessly and dangerously.
The breakup seems arbitrary, considering Cuddy’s deep feelings for House. On the other hand, Cuddy is not good with relationships, and maybe that’s her pathology. She certainly ended it with Lucas quick enough!
There are many ways the story might have gone, and the creative team at House chose a path with a lot of risk and much controversy. They made Cuddy seem arbitrary and cruel, stomping on House’s heart, justifying to herself that she “has a right” to break up with him, even as she acknowledges that she hadn’t been fair, and that he deserves another chance. The breakup leaves House broken and pining much as he had with Stacy (we surmise), though we only understand that through Wilson’s eyes.
The relationship is doomed from the start. Cuddy enters into the relationship with an ambivalence that really never goes away, and House is too often driven by fear of losing Cuddy, and of his own happiness. The combination cannot bode well.
As Season 6 ends, Cuddy is in love with House despite her best efforts. She knows she shouldn’t be in love with him, or maybe even love him. “I wish I didn’t,” she confesses, explaining to House that she’s jettisoned her engagement to Lucas in order to be with him. And as she tells a police officer in this season’s finale, she’d been waiting for “something to happen” for months. Expecting House to disappoint or hurt her (of course the last thing she was expecting was for him to crash his car into her living room!).
At the beginning of Season 7, Cuddy is living a fantasy fueled by having seen the best and most noble in House in “Help Me.” Yes, House can be noble, self-sacrificing (despite what he says), romantic, and compassionate. But House can also be selfish (and often is), petulant, play endless games that can drive any sane person of the edge. He can be dismissive of others’ needs, sarcastic, mocking and even mean, and even cruel in the right situation. He’ll lie and obfuscate when it serves what he believes to be a greater good, including self-preservation. He’s a complicated guy.
When you get deeply involved with someone that complex (because you never know when the bad behavior is really bad behavior or just a glorious cover-up for actually-noble behavior; whether the game-playing are gratuitous mind-fucks or have some greater nobler reason behind them), you are letting yourself in for a challenging time.
He is high-maintenance, and Cuddy believed that she was ready for all that entails. Clearly she was not.
Cuddy can’t only think of herself here. She has a child, and what effect does her relationship have on Rachel (for better or worse)? When people fall in love, they put blinders on their eyes to see the good, and not expect the less good. But the blinders fall off sooner or later. And, Cuddy knows House well enough to understand his complexities, troubles and personality. Trying to ignore something you’ve known for years, trying to convince yourself “it doesn’t matter” when it has to eventually, is Cuddy’s biggest misstep during the months of the relationship.