I want to preface this commentary by stating that I am a huge fan of House, and of Hugh Laurie in particular. The writing in this show has often astounded me in the past. From a feminist perspective, there are a few episodes in seasons one through five (“Skin Deep,” I’m looking at you) that I have had problems with; but on a whole I think that the characters—especially Dr. Gregory House and Dr. Lisa Cuddy—are complex and believable.
Be that as it may, there are aspects to the current season that I find troubling.
The first instance I felt swindled by the writers this season was with Dr. Allison Cameron’s departure. This turned out to be quite a point of contention within the fandom, between those who wanted House and Cameron to hook up, and those who wanted House with Cuddy. I don’t necessarily root for any one relationship on the show. I merely saw her departure as a blow because I had come to care about the character, and I thought that she provided a nice balance for House and the other characters.
Much was made of the House/Cuddy relationship last season, and yet this season we see very little of Lisa Edelstein, besides her “superwoman” episode (don’t get me started on that not-so-empowering trope). Mostly, when she is onscreen she can be found passively listening to House’s diatribe, or his, now obligatory, sexual innuendos.* In fact, Stepford Cuddy has lately been shown for only a few minutes in each hour-long episode.
While the female cast members of House have been given substantially less screen time, many of the episodes this season do focus on women. Indeed, the writers seem to focus heavily on women being punished in every medical and psychological form possible—punished for partying too hard (the young girl in “Known Unknowns”), for having hobbies (“Private Lives”) and finally, for having sex (“Black Hole,” “Open and Shut.”)