“There is not a thin line between love and hate. There is, in fact, a Great Wall of China with armed sentries posted every twenty feet between love and hate.” Dr. Gregory House articulates his feelings vehemently when his best friend Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) asks him in an early season one episode (“Occam’s Razor”), “What’s going on between you and Cuddy?” (Even so early in the series history, Hugh Laurie really nailed the internal struggle still at war within House's heart and soul.)
So often, especially in the early days of the series, the character of James Wilson represents us, the viewers, by asking the same questions we might ask; making the same observations we might make of the enigmatic and prickly Dr. House.
House responds to Wilson’s simple question with such vehemence that it’s pretty clear from the start that he has asked himself the same question — and has probably had the same argument with Wilson many times before. The man just protesteth too much, methinks.
Figuring out House and Cuddy’s relationship is like plucking roses from a particularly thorny bush. There’s snark, innuendo, name-calling, of course. But there’s also a sense of loyalty between them, as well as real affection and caring. Is it love? Could it ever be love? For four-plus seasons House and Cuddy have been engaged in an unconventional courtship dance, more appropriate in a Victorian novel. Both of them seem stuck, unwilling to move forward. Taking a step, but then retreating. Testing and pulling back. As it says in the musical Carousel (in the song "If I Loved You"): "Longing to tell you, but afraid and shy/I'd let my golden chances pass me by..."
So that is the question, and here we are, four years later, asking Wilson’s question once again: “What’s going on between House and Cuddy?” What is the nature of their relationship — particularly as it intensifies (as it has this season)?
Unlike House’s relationships with either Cameron or Stacy, the House/Cuddy story is told in furtive glances and body language. It is much harder to grasp and much more open to interpretation. For the first several seasons it is easy to interpret House’s interest as merely a blend of curiosity and sexual fantasy; Cuddy’s as guilt (about House’s leg) and protectiveness. But even in the early seasons there is an underlying affection between them that speaks to something much more significant going on behind it all. That snap and spark, the snipe and insult has beneath it the sensuality of an exotic dance by two people who are terrified of what they actually feel.