Tuesday, February 5, 2008

House and Wilson: TV’s Latest Power Couple

There have been lots of “power couples” on TV over the years. Think of Superman and Lois Lane, Mickey and Minnie, Sonny and Cher, Mulder and Skully. Or, taking a different approach, look at Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, Batman and Robin, Gumby and Pokey, Lenny and Squiggy, Oscar and Felix, Rocky and Bullwinkle.

But now, a new power couple has emerged: Greg House (Hugh Laurie) and James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) from Fox’s show, House. These are two people made for each other. Both are doctors; House being a crackerjack diagnostician, and Wilson an Oncologist. Both work at the same facility, Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Both seem to have personal issues; House - the drug addicted misanthrope, and Wilson - the relationship-addicted divorced man. They feed on each other’s misery. Well, maybe it’s more like House force-feeding his misery to Wilson with Wilson regurgitating it back at him. Both are prone to an acerbic wit.

The relationship between these two people is probably the best quality and the most entertaining part of the show. Wilson frequently gets the best lines out of it, too, even if those lines are sometimes unspoken. For example, in the episode that aired February 3, “Frozen,” when House seems determined to follow Wilson out to lunch to see who Wilson is joining, Wilson stops walking, turns to House and, to answer House, says, “Ok, the reason I didn't tell you was...” and the proceeds to run as fast as he can away from House and out the door, knowing House could never keep up. House gives Wilson’s back that knowing look that only best buddies can give each other. Earlier in the show, there was this gem:

House: You're wearing a lavender shirt, so you're dressing for somebody.
Wilson: The Medical Board. They frown on shirtless Oncology.

One classic encounter with House and Wilson seems to sum up the relationship perfectly in this classic encounter from the episode “Daddy’s Boy”:

House: You bastard. You invited my parents to dinner.
Wilson: Geez, Cameron's got a big mouth.
House: Ha! Not as big as yours.
Wilson: Hey, you used me to avoid seeing your parents.
House: Well, what do you care?
Wilson: I don't. I just thought it might be interesting to find out why.
House: You could have just asked.
Wilson: You would have lied.
House: And you would have believed me. Which would have kept us both happy. Do you want your money back, is that what this is about?
Wilson: No! Wait, what? Have you got the money? [House starts to write check] If you have the money, then why did you need the loan?
House: I didn't. I just wanted to see if you'd give it to me. I've been borrowing increasing amounts ever since you lent me forty dollars a year ago. A little experiment to see where you'd draw the line.
Wilson: You're - you're trying to objectively measure how much I value our friendship?
House: That's five grand, you've got nothing to be ashamed of. So what do you say, one little phone call, one big check?
Wilson: Fine. [takes check] Thanks. [gets in car] Now, be a grownup and either tell mommy and daddy you don't want to see them or I'm picking you up at 7:00 for dinner.
House: What do you mean? You just said...
Wilson: I lied. I've been lying to you in increasing amounts ever since I told you you look good unshaved a year ago. It's a little experiment, you know, to see where you'd draw the line.

The relationship between these two didn’t start out as being a trade off of witty one-liners. Early on, their relationship seemed much more angst-filled, especially when House was deep into his drug addiction. Thankfully they have downplayed the addiction a bit, which allowed the relationship between House and Wilson to be less strained, even allowing their inner pranksters to come out.

The relationship between these two brings more realism to the show than the main story line, which is frequently filled with bizarre cases with equally bizarre treatments. Its as if the show needs the friendship between these two to keep the show grounded. What is interesting is sometimes the writers seem to copy the traits of previous TV power couples while creating the House/Wilson relationship. I think I’ve seen clear traits of Oscar and Felix plus Rocky and Bullwinkle, with a little Mulder and Skully thrown in there.

So I think it’s fitting to add House and Wilson to the long list of famous television power couples. I found a quote from House from an unnamed episode that I think sums up their relationship best, “So between us we can do anything. We can rule the world!”

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