Tuesday, April 7, 2009
House Tackles A Serious Subject... (Spoilers)
...and falls on its face. At least so far.
I'm watching a Season 4 episode of House right now and it's practically eerie in light of last night's stunning plot development. It's also more than a little aggravating, because Kutner is really one of the bright spots of the competition to form a new team. His thrill-seeking and his sense of excitement at the cool things being a doctor lets you do made his character stand out from the crowd. In the episode I'm watching now House asks the team to dig up a dead body. Kutner's one-word reaction: "Cool."
I do appreciate (though fortunately it is an issue I have never had to deal with) that suicide is often sudden and unexpected, leaving everyone affected without an answer. That being said, the writers of House did not invest the proper amount of time and effort into making Kutner a round character, and their idea to have him commit suicide (because of Kal Penn's request to depart the show) reeks of trying to give the character a significance in death that he didn't have in life. It's cheap to kill off a lesser character to focus on the major ones. Seeing the frequent cuts to Foreman and Thirteen during the funeral made me angry that would use suicide as a means to spend even more time on this tiresome relationship.
I also thought the treatment of suicide was uneven and in places crass. They did run the obligatory "If you have thoughts of ending your life..." announcement at the end of the episode, but then followed it up with one of the creepiest and most offensive things I've ever seen on network TV. They launched an online memorial to Kutner, with fake notes written to him by the other characters on the show? This had to be an executive decision, if it was the creative talent that did it then I don't know what to think about that.
The only positive to come out of this is that seeing House struggle to explain the inexplicable should provide some real drama to close out what has otherwise been a lackluster season. I hope the persistent theory online that the writers are just going to abandon the new team entirely aren't true. I think Taub has real potential, and is just now coming into his proper prominence.