This week, we're supposed to be talking about heroes, and how realistic they should be and how they should be portrayed.
This got me thinking about an unlikely hero - Dr. Gregory House (House M.D). Oh yeah, he is sarcastic, caustic, brings irony to a new level and basically you want to sock him one half the time. Why is he a hero then? How can this hateable man be likable, and even sympathetic? Yes, I found him sympathetic, once, and that's when he won me over.
T.J mentioned that one of the biggest strokes of genius when Margaret Mitchell penned Rhett Butler was that she made this Alpha man behave like an Alpha. It's what they did for House too.
Gregory House seems to hate women. Okay, he hates everyone. Sometimes he is seen to 'like' his best friend Dr. James Wilson and he has shown compassion and feelings for his colleague Dr. Allison Cameron and he often portrays a distant attachment and affection for his boss, Dr. Lisa Cuddy. This somewhat makes him human, though I do also think the fact that he doesn't hesitate to tell everyone the truth about them also makes him human (come on, wouldn't you want to be so frank sometimes?). But what I'm talking about is when his ex-girlfriend Stacy Warner walked back into the picture. Stacy manipulated it so that House would have an operation he didn't want, and he holds her responsible for the way his life has degenerated (his limp, his enduring pain, the need to drown in Vicodin). So Stacy has moved on, married someone else, Mark, and now she's back at the Princeton-Plainsborough Hospital where House works to be the legal representative.
House still loves her, it's obvious, though it's never shown that he is simpering or whining over the loss of his one true love. It is calmly apparent in his gaze, in how he watches her. Stacy for her part has moved on, but back in close proximity to House, she knows she still has feelings for him. Starts then a limbo between House and her husband Mark, with House doing everything to break them up so he can win her. I know, not heroic at all. Then Stacy and House do end up sleeping together, but Mark has a stroke and Stacy has to go back to his side. While helping her husband recover, Stacy battles her feelings for House, and starts another dilemma. She comes to the conclusion she'll never be able to leave Mark, especially not in the condition he is, but she doesn't want to let go of House either. She wants the milk and the cow, as House so clearly presents it to her.
And that's when he turned into a hero in my eyes - he asked her to leave. He cannot settle for being the other man, the toy Stacy comes running to play with and then discard when real life calls back. Despite loving her - you can see it's breaking him - he asks her to go. And he also leaves.
Gregory House is an Alpha character, and through the above happenings, he is portrayed as the Alpha man, because this is what an Alpha man does and how he reacts. There is consistency in how he is portrayed. The writers stick to who he inherently is and show him as such, without any window-dressing, giving the tortured soul hiding behind the caustic wit.
You may not agree with me, but a man who doesn't accept to be second best or to be the one in the shadows is heroic for me. House shows how real life is and how real life can be, and I think we as writers should not discount this fact. Reality can be portrayed through fiction - and it can be portrayed well. Just make your characters act like real people would.
Any questions, just holler!
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