I'm coming late to the House party, having just started to watch it this season. And I really like the show. It's smart, wonderfully written, a bit irreverent and basically a mystery, which I personally love as a story genre. What I'm also really appreciating, is watching the main character, House, struggle with the return of a disability that was supposed to have been cured by a surgery. It's not the pain or struggle I appreciate per se, but rather, that it is being played out on mainstream media for all to see. Visibility in media can mean a number of things. Acceptance, confirmation, inclusion. For those of us consuming media in the 70's, we remember that this was one of the key arguments raised when talking about race on television. Invisibility on TV meant African Americans were never seen beyond the accepted stereotypes and racist generalizations of the culture at large. Diverse characters, illustrating life beyond the stereotypes, allowed the viewer to see people as individuals, rather than as the one dimensional idea of who they were as a group.
And that's why I really like House the most. Last night, when he finally resorts to picking up his cane again, I literally hurt inside. They skillfully handled the internal struggle he was having between his deep hope that things had changed positively forever and the sinking understanding that in fact, they had not. I kept thinking as I watched the show, that some writer really got the subtlety of the internal dance that goes on between mind and body when the body is compromised. Though the character isn't a diabetic, the story felt universal to anyone dealing with that dance. Overall, it felt like a step forward to me. A hit show, who's main character's body is compromised, causing him struggle, frustration, pain despair and anger. He's not the nicest guy on TV, but maybe this insight into his physical struggle helps give some dimension as to why this might be so.
House is also a hit show that helps "normalize" the experience of physical challenges for the viewing audience to see and internalize on some level. And all this while he solves confounding medical mysteries that stump everyone else. Compromised body doesn't mean "less than" performance or skill. According to House, it means humanity and depth, which makes this show one of my new favorites to watch. That, plus the fact that I'd be happy to watch Hugh Laurie in almost anything.