'House': Suicide is painful

SPOILER ALERT: DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED ON HOUSE LAST NIGHT.

Housekalpenn_l
The suicide death last night of Kal Penn’s House character Kutner was a jolt in a series whose hero, Hugh Laurie’s House, tries desperately to avoid sentimentality. That’s what makes the outpouring of grief for this character, to read EW’s comments sections in Michael Ausiello’s remarkable reports on this “event” (doesn’t that word sound odd in this context?), all the more interesting.

Fox has set up a Kutner memorial page you can visit here. It includes a montage video of Kutner moments backed by music composed by Laurie. It’s very nice, if a bit antithetical to the artistic ideas behind House. What seemed most House-like about the episode last night was the fact that Kutner’s dead body was found in the first segment of the hour — a lesser show would have built up to the awful act, milking it for melodrama. I also liked a lot of the dialogue. When Cuddy told House, “I’m sorry for your loss,” you just knew House was not going to let that cliche of concern let pass.

“Thanks. It’s not my loss,” said House abruptly. But then Cuddy had to give us the TV-drama-approved additional cliche: “Then I’m sorry you don’t think it is.”

I think Dr. House had it right… about himself, at least. Suicides are not, as the theme song from M*A*S*H had it, painless, and certainly not to the people he or she leaves behind. But for a guy like Gregory House, the loss really isn’t his. In the original concept of this character — who has become more emotional, less assiduously rational and cynical, as the seasons have gone on — the death of a colleague would not be an occasion to idealize or deny the flaws in the departed person.

A “pointless death” — that’s the way Taub described it. And it was, in best sense for effective drama: Kutner’s death was a true TV “event” because the people behind the show had the guts not to take the easy way out and make Kal Penn’s exit from the series mawkish. The only other recent TV-character suicide I can think of that was handled as well was the Dualla character’s demise on Battlestar: Galactica: Can you think of others?

The previews for next week’s episode say that “a tragedy brings everyone closer together.” Ah, too bad: another TV-drama cliche that could be avoided. Sometimes suicides drive people apart, as a character such as House would know.

Still, not many TV series have ever presented a suicide in this realistic a manner. Rather than condolences, I wish House — the show, not the character — congratulations.

For more on House:

House’ exclusive: The shocking story behind last night’s big death

‘House’ spoiler alert: They did WHAT to WHO?!

Housekalpenn_lThe suicide death last night of Kal Penn’s House characterKutner was a jolt in a series whose hero, Hugh Laurie’s House, triesdesperately to avoid sentimentality. That’s what makes the outpouringof grief for this character, to read EW’s comments sections in MichaelAusiello’s remarkable reports on this "event" (doesn’t that word soundodd in this context?), all the more interesting.

Fox has set up a Kutner memorial page you can visit here.It includes a montage video of Kutner moments backed by music composedby Laurie. It’s very nice, if a bit antithetical to the artistic ideasbehind House. What seemed most House-like about theepisode last night was the fact that Kutner’s dead body was found inthe first segment of the hour — a lesser show would have built up tothe awful act, milking it for melodrama. I also liked a lot of thedialogue. When Cuddy told House, "I’m sorry for your loss," you justknew House was not going to let that cliche of concern let pass.

"Thanks. It’s not my loss," said House abruptly. But then Cuddy hadto give us the TV-drama-approved additional cliche: "Then I’m sorry youdon’t think it is."

I think Dr. House had it right… about himself, at least. Suicides are not, as the theme song from M*A*S*H had it, painless, and certainly not to the people he or she leaves behind. But for a guy like Gregory House, the loss really isn’t his. In the original concept of this character — who has become more emotional, less assiduously rational and cynical, as the seasons have gone on — the death of a colleague would not be an occasion to idealize or deny the flaws in the departed person.

A "pointless death" — that’s the way Taub described it. And it was,in best sense for effective drama: Kutner’s death was a true TV "event"because the people behind the show had the guts not to take the easyway out and make Kal Penn’s exit from the series mawkish. The only other recent TV-character suicide I can think of that was handled as well was the Dualla character’s demise on Battlestar: Galactica: Can you think of others?

The previews for next week’s episode say that "a tragedy brings everyone closer together." Ah, too bad: another TV-drama cliche that could be avoided. Sometimes suicides drive people apart, as a character such as House would know.

Still, not many TVseries have ever presented a suicide in this realistic a manner. Rather thancondolences, I wish House — the show, not the character –congratulations.

For more on House:

House’ exclusive: The shocking story behind last night’s big death

‘House’ spoiler alert: They did WHAT to WHO?!

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Comments (102 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2 3 7
  • green

    This one is lovely. Ever saw this one’s profile on —– WealthyRomances com —– , just for millionaire & celebrities.

  • Johhny Wiseay

    Really? You put a spoiler alert in the article but type the word SUICIDE in the headline. What do yo think people are going to think about when reading that?

  • Josh

    I think it’s been common knowledge on this site that someone on the show commits suicide. The spoiler pertained to the who, not the what.

  • rockstarmom

    So thanks for the spoiler warning, but having the other article about Kal Penn going to the White House (with pictures!) kind of gives it away. Could a couple of departments at EW talk to each other before throwing things up on the site?

  • orville

    Hard not to know the spoiler when there’s several different articles about it floating around your site. Putting “spoiler alert” on an article with the word suicide in the title is not a good enough warning when there’s another article about “The shocking story about last night’s death” with Kal Penn’s picture attached to it. And another headline about how Kal Penn has traded House for the White House. We don’t all watch tv for a living–I can’t get back to the shows I DVRed the night before until the next evening, so this episode’s been spoiled completely.

  • #9

    A followup on a previous comment – Not only do you put SUICIDE in the headline BEFORE the spoiler alert, but you also place his picture right below the spoiler alert. Good stuff.

  • Reese

    I will never understand babies who cry and whine over “spoiler alerts.”
    Here’s an idea: don’t visit this web site!
    The show was on LAST NIGHT and is therefore fair game to be openly discussed the next day. If you didn’t watch it LAST NIGHT, then don’t visit EW the NEXT day!
    Grow the EFF UP!

  • Gaby

    Before they even put these articles up, they posted that they were going to. A couple times. It was said to STAY AWAY until you have seen the episode. It’s not their fault that people choose to come on here without seeing the episode when told NOT to. Why come on here when ya know things would be spoiled for you? Obviously there’s gonna be talk about the episode..

  • JR

    Don’t forget Adam Whitman’s suicide in Season One of “Mad Men.” There were five episodes between his two appearances, and his death was presented pretty straightforwardly. Of course, with only two appearances he doesn’t rate the same punch as Dualla or Kutner, but on the whole it was well done.

  • Tim

    The TV ads even said someone was going to kill themselves, so that was no secret.

  • suntrap49

    The episode already aired, hence discussing what ALREADY happened is not discussing spoilers. It’s just discussing what happened. In the past. Yesterday. When it aired.

  • willsia

    This one is lovely. Ever saw this one’s profile on —– WealthyRomances com —– , just for millionaire & celebrities.

  • Jim

    thank you for the spoiler, you pricks!
    Did it ever occur to the stupid moron who wrote this article that some people may not have yet seen the show??
    You fuc.ing bast.rds, do you ever stop to think before you do something so blo.dy selfish????
    Pitiful wankers….

  • Charles

    I have to agree with those who are tired of people complaining about “spoilers”, especially after the fact. This happened LAST night, why shouldn’t people have the opportunity to talk about it just because you haven’t gotten around to watching it? It has been obvious for several weeks that something was going to happen, if you don’t want to know than stay away from this site until you watch it. It’s the same with people who start reading the comments section on IMDB before they watch the movie and then are irate when someone “spoils” it for them. But then I guess that is just the curse of this new-fangled Interweb thing…

  • john

    yes a spoiler warning would of been nice but thats life.
    i think this is like when the Chief from Rescue Me put a gun in his mouth. just out of nowhere.

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