On House

Building Frankenstein's Doctor

The Component Parts of Dr. House
By Shanna Swendson

Dr. Gregory House is one of the most complex and fascinating characters on network television today. He’s equally brilliant, clever, creative, infuriating, stubborn, arrogant, witty, curious, and troubled. The creators of the series House M.D. gave themselves room to fully explore House by surrounding him with people who reflect various aspects of his character. Each of the three fellows working for House embodies a crucial element (or two) of House’s character. Or, depending on how you look at it, House’s team is a sort of Frankenstein’s monster, another House built from component parts. This allows those key traits to be isolated and taken to extremes or inverted while being put in direct opposition with each other and with House himself.

House is arrogant and outspoken, with no respect for rank or position–a trait reflected in Dr. Eric Foreman, the team’s neurologist. House is insatiably curious and won’t quit until he finds the answer he needs–something we also see in Dr. Allison Cameron, the immunologist of the group. House is troubled, as well, with physical pain, a dependence on painkillers, and plenty of emotional baggage. Dr. Robert Chase, the intensive care specialist, is a lost soul who reflects some of House’s baggage and his troubled past.

The pilot episode lays out these characterizations. In his very first appearance on the series, Foreman challenged House’s approach to medicine and his insistence that there was something more unusual than a tumor affecting their patient. At that point, Foreman had only recently joined the team, but  …

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