The year was 2007. I’d recently graduated from high school – and if I’m going to be honest with myself, my senior year was a very difficult year for me (but more on that in a later issue). I also found myself anxious about going away to college and being on my own for the first time.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but my worldview – and my view of people – was changing quicker than I’d wanted it to. I realized that most of the people I’d been friends with in high school (except for Gauri!), as a result of a series of unfortunate incidents, wouldn’t be my BFFS 4 LYFE! As a member of a small school environment since age five, that was a hard pill to swallow (although in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t worried so much). And I didn’t want to be right about how I was feeling.
A few weeks after graduation, my parents, Gauri, another friend and I embarked on a road trip to my favorite place in the world, Walt Disney World. And both friends decided that we would watch DVDs of House M.D., for the entirety of the trip – a series I’m sure many fellow millennials are familiar with.
I am notorious for my lateness to the party on most TV shows, but House was only three seasons old by this point. I had no idea what I was getting into. In the past, I’d never been a fan of medical dramas.
It took me just a few episodes in the first season to realize that Dr. House was different – and he was a very special character who would end up lighting the way for me to come to terms with my newer view of people while simultaneously giving me hope for humanity. After all, isn’t that the reason for fictional characters? Aren’t they supposed to be relatable?
From the pilot episode, Dr. House tells his colleagues and patients that “everybody lies”– and it’s a theme any avid fan of the show will come to know (I may or may not own a t-shirt that reads “Everybody Lies”). It spoke to me as it felt as though many of my classmates lied to me for 13 years – and some of my teachers had, too. I didn’t want it to hit home, but I also couldn’t deny that it did.
The feeling gave me a strange sense of comfort, as I felt I wasn’t so alone in my feelings of betrayal by people who had been part of my life for a long time. I didn’t know the details of what brought Dr. House to believe what he believed, but if he were a real human being, I had a feeling we could talk for a long time.
But Dr. House’s life philosophy on how there is not a single human being who consistently tells the truth was not the standout for me. Dr. House was a character who – regardless of what others thought – stayed true to himself and his (albeit warped) character. He believed in his brilliance with each patient he healed, stood up to the audience of doubters, and proved them wrong nearly every time.
And so began my love affair with the Good Doctor – as well as his wit, his facetiousness, his good looks (I know, I know, he’s 50) and his remarkable ability to save a life when all seemed lost. I also learned more about British actor Hugh Laurie (who, for those who don’t know, portrayed Dr. House) and the fact that he developed an American accent for the role.
By the time I left for college that September, I had watched every episode of seasons one through three at least twice, thus cultivating my preference for the series’ “old team” of Dr. House’s medical fellows: the lovesick Dr. Cameron, the stupid Dr. Chase and the workaholic Dr. Forman. I also identified with Dr. House’s boss, Dr. Cuddy, and cheered on their obvious sexual tension (which would finally come to fruition and then fade a few years later). And of course I loved Dr. Wilson, Dr. House’s thrice-divorced best friend, who couldn’t solve his own problems but served as the voice of reason to Dr. House.
I felt as though they all came to college with me. On the ride up, I watched episodes over again. I introduced my roommate to the series and found myself hoping that someone I met would also be a fan of the series. By the time the season four premiere rolled around, I was ecstatic.
And thanks to Dr. House, I was learning how to be myself at college – and not care what anyone else thought.
With Season 4 came the WGA Writer’s Strike, which resulted in only 16 episodes being produced. But it also brought us House fans a number of new characters, who were all relatable in different ways. I kept on watching over the course of my college years, but fell behind as a result of night classes and other obligations of college life.
All the while, I still carried a torch for Dr. House. I wrote my senior undergraduate thesis on the series and how the fandom became such a part of my life. I cried when he finally got together with Dr. Cuddy and broke up with her what felt like a minute later. I watched as Dr. House checked himself into rehab and sought help for his addiction to prescription pain medication – and made sure to tune into the series finale in 2012.
On the night of the series finale, I wrote a Facebook status about how these characters changed my life. At this point I’d graduated from college, but still stand by the fact that I’ve never had a fictional character speak to me to this degree. I don’t consider myself to be like Dr. House per se – but I learned a great deal by the way he lived, saved lives, stood up for himself and put up a tough exterior when he was actually afraid but didn’t know how to voice that feeling.
House M.D. changed my life. In a world in which everybody lies, you can still make a difference in someone’s life, even if it’s just one life.