Like seemingly everyone I know, I watch House MD. I love House – both the show and the character – for their wit and intelligence. So when I heard that David Shore, the show’s Canadian creator, was going to be interviewed on CBC’s Q, I stuck around on my couch to listen. Then Shore started talking about Cutthroat Bitch.
Okay, so maybe this requires a little background. One of this season’s new characters is a young doctor named Amber. She is competitive, ruthless even – she works very hard, but she also misses no opportunity to mess with her coworkers to get the job. Other characters on the show often refer to her as Cutthroat Bitch, as if it’s her name. So does David Shore, with a self-satisfied smirk on his voice.
Sometimes it’s hard to figure out whether sexist comments in a script reflect the opinions of the show’s creators, or are just there to develop an unlikable character – House is every sort of misogynist, and I think we’re usually supposed to laugh at him. But my perception of this show is changing.
Let’s talk about women in House. The other new female character is emotionally stunted and nameless – they just call her “13.” Cuddy, the Chief of Medicine, is both unable to control House, and usually in the wrong, frequently slowing down the real doctors’ lifesaving work. Because Cuddy has so much power, she is also unable to get so much as a boyfriend, let alone a partner. Her attempts to start a family are ridiculed and then forgotten. Cameron is probably the best developed female character, but then she was pathetically in love with her unavailable boss.
Coming from a supposedly boundary-smashing show, this is really tired stuff. Women on television who get ahead almost always do it at the expense of family or morals. Sure, go to medical school – you might be good at what you do, but you’ll die sad and lonely.