And she's right. Some of House’s humanity is seen, not necessarily in the pages of script, but in the unspoken moments of little (or no) dialogue—in Hugh Laurie’s brilliant (and often brave) performance. Forgive me the indulgence of quoting from my book about the series:
…Try taking a page of random dialogue from House and just read it out—then watch the performance on screen. Magic happens to make the words come alive, the dialogue sing and the words between the lines resonate. It’s called acting.
On the printed page, House comes off as a jerk, sometimes such a complete ass that it would be hard to find him at all sympathetic. But take those same lines and put them into an episode—with Laurie ‘reading out’ the lines (as he calls it), and everything else he puts into his performance: body language, inflections, rhythm, and perhaps most importantly, those gloriously expressive, tragic blue eyes. The transformation from page to screen is astonishing. (Chasing Zebras, “Writing House”).
I spend a chapter in Chasing Zebras talking both about the writing and what Laurie adds to printed page. I’m not going to quote extensively from the book, but will I draw your attention to what I wrote about the fifth season episode “Simple Explanation (5.20), in which House’s fellow Lawrence Kutner commits suicide:
House accompanies Foreman and 13 to visit Kutner’s adoptive parents. Foreman and 13 are content to sit with them, offering whatever comfort they can. But House tries to make sense of Kutner’s death.
“It was his name. He was conflicted, didn’t know where he fit in, being ripped out of his world and stuck into yours," he tells them, almost accusingly. "All his Anglo name gave him was the illusion that he was someone he wasn’t. . .You didn’t understand him.?"
Harsh, cold, unfeeling: how can you talk like that to the parents of someone who has just killed himself? House sounds like an unsympathetic bastard arguing with Kutner’s unsuspecting parents. How could anyone relate to such a jerk?
But watch the performance, and you discover the rest of the story. House is really talking to the Kutners, he really talking to himself, as he tries to make sense of the senseless. He is trying to understand Kutner’s feelings of isolation and loneliness within an outwardly loving, family. But at the same time, you perceive that House is talking as much about himself and troubled upbringing as he is about Kutner.
It’s in his tone of voice—House is barely holding it together. There is a haunted quality to it that makes you suspect he’ll fall apart if he doesn’t keep talking through this extremely inappropriate rational analysis. He is saying terrible things, but with such pathos, you can’t help but feel for him” (Chasing Zebras, “Writing House”).