Recently I read an interview with Hugh Laurie, the man who plays House in the show of the same name.  One of the things he said about the part interested me.  He said he was initially unsure the show would survive because Americans like their heros to be good and wholesome, the kind of person you can root for.  Given House’s (now famous) irascibility, Laurie just didn’t think people would like him (meaning House).  However, “House” is a hit; people love it so much there are now several clones on their way to the airwaves.  For example there is “Shark” about a jerky lawyer who always wins.

I hope very much that these clones fail.  I do enjoy “House;” even though if I were ever to meet House himself in person I’d want to throttle him right quick I enjoy him as a character on a TV show.  However I think there is one very important aspect to “House” that isn’t recognized by those behind “Shark.”  No, House isn’t your typical hero.  He’s a jerk who knows he’s a jerk and doesn’t care.  “Tact” is a foriegn word to him.  “Courtesy” is something other people bother with.  It’s not that his competence excuses him either.  Those around him hate his behaviour to the point that in a recent episode one of the doctors learning under him flatly stated that if House had lost his edge then he would quit because “there’s no point putting up with House’s torture if there’s no upside.”

However, in the end House is saving lives.  He’s no sentimentalist; he doesn’t particularly care for the patient but he does care about their life and even their quality of life.  I think that that goal, along with the audience’s own frustrations with people around them and with bureaucracy, is what allows people to enjoy House even in his snarkier moments.

I don’t think people will appreciate the same attitude from a lawyer.  Especially when, as it said in a review of “Shark,” he’s not always fighting for justice.  The ends don’t justify the means but they do affect perceptions.

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