Leaving itself wide open for all manner of bad medical-terminology-death puns, Fox has decided to cancel its long-running medical drama House after eight seasons of furrowed brows and sticking it to the man.
Once upon a time, Gregory House was a lovable, eccentric genius. Maybe he didn’t always follow the rules, but he got the job done. He was brash, sure. Sometimes he was downright ornery, but he was never just 100% mean: until now. These days I can barely stand to watch as he berates his lackluster costars, wallows in his tiresome self-pity and barely gives a second thought to the dying patients under his care. These days, House is a real a-hole.
An abusive father, busted up leg, and Vicodin addiction twanged my heartstrings aplenty in seasons 1-5. Constant pain can really humanize a character, and when that character also happens to be a handsome medical mastermind who saves lives, well, he can really get away with a lot of nastiness. But every mean-spirited action had to be counterbalanced with an adequately sympathetic moment of remorse, or at least some decent self-destructive alone time. Like when he almost drank himself to death and was saved by Wilson at the last second. Or when, after convincing Cuddy and the hospital attorney to allow one baby to die in order to save another, he performs the baby autopsy himself, sparing his dispirited team the gruesome task.
In the early seasons, House’s redeeming moments often came at the bedside of a particularly difficult patient. These are moments when House’s desire to save a life seems to trump his desire to be a d*ck and are often punctuated by an insightful commentary on the nature of life and death, i.e.: “We can only live with dignity, we cannot die with it.” The trouble is, as House has become less likeable, his motivations for saving lives seem more like attempts to prove the metal of his diagnoses than to help people.
It wouldn’t take much. Just a few intense, season 1 close-ups on two tortured baby blues.
It pains me to feel this way about House. I used to harbor a passionate love for the kooky, motorcycle-riding, sneaker-wearing, prostitute-employing, sarcasm-wielding, pill-popping, atheist doctor. I still admire the classic one-liners, the great quotes that continue to pop up on Facebook every five seconds. For example, “I only became a doctor because of the movie Patch Adams.” Or, “Where would junior high be without our ability to judge people on aesthetics?”
A significant part of the problem I’m having is that I’ve also lost interest in House’s diagnostic team. Ever since Cuddy left, Princeton-Plainsboro has seemed more like Plainston-Lamesboro. Park is cute and quirky but Adams is the flattest, most vapid excuse for a diagnostician since, well, since ever. She sucks. I never thought I’d say it, but Chase is now my favorite character. I used to love Wilson but now he’s just a sad sack oncologist with no fight left in him. Foreman’s predictable haughtiness is so boring it hurts.
I can’t say I’ll stop watching House. I still find some slim satisfaction in the formula: case that doesn’t respond to treatment, patient gets worse as House does a variety of annoying prankish stuff, team scurries around blabbing about what House might be up to, everybody lies or something, House comes up with diagnosis while bouncing a ball on his cane.
Liz Lemon – 30 Rock
Liz has a borderline unhealthy obsession with food. Mix that with shaky self-esteem and plummeting self-image issues, and top it off with a bizarre sense of optimistic determination, and you’ve got one middle-aged woman who really should have broken down by now. Luckily, there’s one thing that gets her through the day. C’mon, for Liz, this stuff is like porn.
Dr. Perry Cox – Scrubs
Dr. Cox is a sadistic narcissist who loves torturing those around him. After a long day of sewing up gaping wounds and inflicting emotional scars on his coworkers, Dr. Cox loves to go home, kick up his feet, and watch the one guy on TV he can actually relate to.
Bender – Futurama
This robot loves nothing more than booze, cigars, and hookers. Booze and cigars and easy to get, but robo-prostitutes aren’t always in good supply. In times like that, Bender can find grade-A robotic smut on the Science Channel.
Simon Cowell – The X Factor
Simon catches a lot of flak for being the harsh one. You can’t just give everybody a thumbs up and pass them over the next round. Sometimes, the best medicine is tough love, and Simon is willing to man up and tell people what they don’t want to (but should) hear. When he’s not crushing dreams, Simon likes to watch a TV show full of people who understand him, who accept him for who he is and aren’t judgmental of his direct, sometimes harsh approach.
Aaron Hotchner – Criminal Minds
As the unit leader in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, it’s crucial to stay one step ahead of the world’s sickest minds. Hotchner takes his job seriously, and works ‘round-the-clock to ensure that he brings his A-game to every case. So, when Hotch does get a bit of free time, he spends it doing research.
TV seems to be a breeding ground for jerks, and for good reason. Jerks make for excellent television. They are natural lightning rods for drama, and resolve issues in the most inappropriate fashion imaginable. Today, we’re starting a TV jerk competition to determine TV’s biggest jerk. We still have no idea what we’re calling the competition. It’s hard to call it something like “Jerkathon” without it sounding obscene.
Gordon Ramsay – Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen, etc
Not everybody can be a head chef. It’s a fast-paced high stress environment where the quality of your work is immediately judged. It’s definitely the type of job that’s best suited for Type A personalities. Naturally, we can expect a lot of cooks to be rather intense.
Gordon Ramsay takes that stereotype and runs with it. Not only is he probably the most intense, direct, and abrasive individuals in the world of cooking, but he gives the jerks of most other networks a run for their money.
His jerkiness has a bit of a weakness, though. He really doesn’t seem that bad as long as you avoid making mistakes in the kitchen. If you make the grievous error of serving up a rare steak when it should have been medium rare, then may God have mercy on you, because Gordon Ramsay sure won’t.
Redeeming Factor: Delicious fish n’ chips.
Overall Jerkometer: B
Gregory House – House M.D.
It’s not easy being a genius. Everybody is dumb and proves it to you on a daily basis by doing stupid things, like eating earth worms. Did you know that earth worms carry 800 different kinds of deadly viruses and can spread over 70,000 different species of parasites? Dr. House knew that, and he expects 4-year-olds everywhere to know that, too.
Ultimately selfish and unsympathetic, House will do whatever he can to prove himself right, even he makes other people miserable in the process. The closer you get to him, the more he burns you.
Redeeming Factor: He can fix your back pain, but only after mocking you for 8 hours.
Overall Jerkometer: A
Sheldon Cooper – The Big Bang Theory
Sheldon isn’t really big on being a jerk for the sake of being a jerk. He’s sort of a jerk as a byproduct of his philosophy. The path of logic does not allow for trifling things like emotion and feelings, so a true smartass like Sheldon can occasionally trample over a person’s good will without even meaning to do it. He’s more quirky than jerky, but his weirdness makes it difficult to connect with him.
As long as you approach things logically and don’t put yourself out on a limb emotionally, you won’t be scarred too terribly.
Redeeming Factor: He can tell you the approximate astronomical between the Earth and the moon.
Overall Jerkometer: C+
Simon Cowell – America’s Got Talent, The X-Factor, etc
Other TV jerks have to tip their hats to Simon Cowell, who was in many ways the front runner for modern television jerkiness. Simon’s brand of cruelty can be summed up in one simple phrase: The truth hurts. He’s not so interested in making you twist in emotional agony; he just wants to make sure that you understand how terribly bad of a singer you are.
Redeeming Factor: He will honestly tell you if those pants make you look fat.
Overall Jerkometer: A-
It’s time for your second round of presents from your favorite TV personalities. You got plenty of great gifts in part 1, so let’s see what else is waiting for you under the tree. Unwrap your presents to find out!
1. Dr. House – House
When you want a cure for a rare and bizarre disease, come to Dr. House. When you want to feel good about yourself and hang out with a buddy, keep on walking. House isn’t exactly the friendliest guy you’ll ever meet, but he can still give a decent Christmas gift when the time comes.
2. SVU Group – Law and Order: SVU
Working the hard crimes of the Special Victims Unit is bound to leave people a little cynical. Luckily, the holidays are all about letting go of some of that negativity to celebrate life and happiness. The crew might get a bit stressed with all of the evil they experience on a daily basis, that hasn’t stopped them from pitching in and buying you a really thoughtful – and useful – stocking stuffer.
3. Elena – Vampire Diaries
Living around a bunch of vampires is a rather exhilarating experience for a sexy young woman. On the one side of the coin, you get to be surrounded by a bunch of smoky, sexy vampire guys. On the flip side is the whole blood sucking thing. That’s kind of a buzz kill. So, how does Elena cope with all of the love triangle drama and remain sane? This year, Elena is sharing with you her personal, secret outlet for all of her pent-up sexual frustration.
4. Jayne – Firefly
Jayne can be a rough and tumble guy, but his heart’s in the right place when it matters (by that, I mean that it’s in the right place if you’ve recently paid him). Any diehard Browncoat knows that Jayne can really pull out all of the stops and give a very thoughtful gift. Just don’t expect to get Vera, his very favorite gun; he doesn’t give away things like that to just anyone.
5. The Soup Nazi – Seinfeld
When you want the best soup in all of New York, get your money ready and go over to the Soup Nazi’s place. Just don’t mess around at the cashier. But don’t worry too much, you’re on his good side! And this year he got you something special.
When a TV show overstays its welcome, it has “jumped the shark” – a term coined after the infamous Happy Days episode where Fonzie jumps over a shark on water skis. The past year featured an unusual amount of shark jumping as many fan favorite TV shows have grown long in the tooth.
When a relationship between two men becomes too epic to be labeled as a friendship, it can only be defined as a “bromance.” In 2011 we saw a number of bromances blossom between best buds on TV. Here’s just a few of our favorites.
10. Sam and Dean – Supernatural
Sam and Dean may be actual brothers, but face it—when’s the last time you treated your own brother as good as the Winchester boys treat each other? When you’re battling the creatures of the night, it’s nice to know your bro has your back.