In an article titled “What if the Cynical Dr. House was Good?” L'Osservatore Romano reviews the book “Dr. House: Madness and Fascination of a Cult Series,” which examines the popular TV program “House” and how its “evil” protagonist conveys positive but often politically incorrect messages in support of life.
The book’s introduction points out that few programs on television escape today’s political correctness, a censor that teaches “very little culture and impresses just two values on the minds of viewers: self-determination (which culminates by turning into loneliness) and separation.”
The authors of the book, Carlo Bellieni and Andrea Bechi, call it surprising that “the protagonist (the hero)” of the popular series “is an open cynic.”
“Here lies the genius of the creators of the series House: not taking it for granted but actually putting forth a decent ethical itinerary using words, pictures and even the human weaknesses that normally convey another kind of message,” the authors wrote.
“With his clichés, his apologies, his idiocies and jokes about his colleagues, this series reaffirms strong and firm values, despite its contradictions, its cynicisms and its atheism (which is probably only there to provide ‘tone’),” they continued.
The Italian authors go on to state that “in the end the moral is not merely eschatology but also the reaffirming of the truth about man.
“Nevertheless, it must be noted: House is ‘evil’ and cynical. Thus we are asked to make an effort to overcome the impact of this negative conduct in order to understand the main message of the fictional story and not limit ourselves to just what we see, but rather to focus on the decisive point: change and the amazement of a cynical mind.”
Belliene and Bechi also found an intersection between “House” and bioethics. While the Church always seeks to help people understand their own desires and limits in concert with reason, the reviewers said that today's medical advances often isolate people from reason.
These bioethical advances “have as their ideal isolation and so-called ‘self-determination.’ They demonstrate the restrictive use of reason: they are no longer capable of calling a ‘child’ a child (only because it has not yet been born) or they are terrified by the supposed ‘aggressiveness of the cure,’ which often is nothing more than an attempt to save a life.”
“It is not a coincidence that abortion and euthanasia as ‘rights’ originate with the idea that nobody should interfere with decisions that have perhaps been made in a moment of loneliness or desperation. Even House experienced this when he wanted to save the life of a patient, despite his biological state.”
The article notes that in the book’s “fascination with the character of a fictional television series, we get to know him better and discover that in the stories told by him there is a positive way of seeing reality that emerges and greatly surprises us.”
This way of seeing things, the authors said, is at the foundation of the Christian message, is everything that today’s society wishes to hide: “the powerful and unceasing use of reason and the strength of human contact (which in this case, displays its therapeutic power even when the protagonist wants to reject it, but within him something prevents him from doing so).”
For this reason, they conclude, “that these positive messages come from an ‘evil’ character pleases us; they serve to reduce sentimentalism and increase trust in ourselves as fallible (but redeemable) human beings.”
“House” was watched by 82 million people in 66 countries in 2008.