On House

Everybody Lies Except for the CGI

A Practical Guide to Deception in House M.D.
By Craig Derksen

“Everybody lies” is the catch phrase of House M.D. In fact, much of the vaunted diagnostic prowess of the main character Dr. Gregory House comes from his ability to see through deceptions. However, the lies that drive the show are not random, but rather a structured set of deceptions that never seem to be without cause. Just as some people have created guidelines for how to survive in a horror movie based on the patterns of the genre, we can formulate a list of guidelines to detect deception in House M.D.

Without further ado, I present the rules to deception in House M.D.

Some General Comments about the Diagnosis of
Deceptions in Fiction

There are many conventions about deception in fiction, and like all fiction, House M.D. follows some of these conventions and disregards others. One of the most prominent of these conventions involves characters concocting overly elaborate stories to hide their deceptions. House M.D. has not indulged in this particular theatrical device. Some shows (most situation comedies, for example) present us with elaborate webs of deception and attempt to entertain us with the uncomfortable feelings we experience as those webs are spun. Even though House M.D. is as much about deceptions and their consequences as Friends or Three’s Company, its treatment of these deceptions is unlike the treatment of deception in these shows. The deceptions in House M.D. lack this sort of overwrought complexity. Interestingly, the lies in House M.D. are usually concealed by the most mundane, uninteresting stories. There  …

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