“When I was getting a baby, you told me I would suck as a mother, now that I’ve lost it; you tell me I would be great as a mother.”

Powerful words spoken from an emotionally devastated Cuddy from the latest episode of House MD called “Joy”. A lot of talk has been going on about “Joy” because frankly House and Cuddy are an interesting topic, especially for nuts like me who like to over analyze everything and though the episode was about Cuddy’s potential adoption, it had strong under currents of Huddy. From reading, god knows how many reviews of “Joy” and seeing heaven knows how many interpretations of the characters, I have learned to appreciate the episode far more, for the literary genius it was along with the depth to the characters of House and Cuddy. I decided to focus this article on both House and Cuddy’s emotional problems with relationships and how that ties into the baby arc.

House
As has been pointed out by many people, many times, House’s emotional and social development is stunted at that of a child. House deepest fears mirror those of the child who doesn’t want to be left alone. He fears rejection, betrayal and as stated before being left alone. His sarcasm and harsh treatment of others serve as a façade to hide behind. He feels the need to measure his relationships with the people he is close to by measuring it in how much crap they can take.

House: I didn't. [takes out his chequebook and starts writing a cheque] Just wanted to see if you could give it to me. I've been borrowing increasing amounts ever since you lent me 40 dollars a year ago. A little experiment to see where you draw the line.

Wilson: [dumbfounded] You're [splutters] you're trying to... objectively measure how much I value our friendship?!
Daddy's Boy

Daddy’s Boy, season 2, episode episode 5

This conversation shows House literally measuring how Wilson values the relationship, but very often House uses his acid tongue to judge how much HE should value the relationship. This is essentially why he pushes the ones close to him further away, because he needs to know how much he can depend on them. If he sees that whatever he does won’t push that person away, he knows that there is a less chance of him being hurt and left alone. You could say that this mind set resulted from a combination of his abuse as a child and Stacy’s “betrayal” when she left him. Emotionally immature anyway, from the abuse, when Stacy left him, House was suddenly thrust into an unknown world. Just when he needed someone the most, just when he truly needed to depend on someone, that someone was gone. I’m sure that the pain of being rejected and left alone only amplified the pain in his leg and left him bitter and un-wanting to trust people again.

Despite House’s attempts to be left alone, people always manage to break through. His old team, Wilson and Cuddy have all managed to do that. I group the old team into one because, to me, in regards to how House views them, they serve the same purpose for House. They are forced to be near him, they work(ed) for him. He can say whatever he wants, do whatever he wants and act however he wants and they will always come back tomorrow. They are a source of reliability, no matter how superficial, which is why House reacted in the way he did to them leaving at the end of season 3.

JAMES WILSON: Three years ago, you hired a team. What's changed?

GREG HOUSE: I've become a man of principle. I've gotten smarter. What answer will make Socrates shut up?

JAMES WILSON: [Dr. Phil-son] What's changed is, you hired a team. You connected with a team. You worked with a team. And you lost a team.

GREG HOUSE: [looking at the monitor] Damn. There's no abnormalities in her pancreas.


JAMES WILSON: You fall in love, you get married. Fifty percent chance it'll end in misery. Hiring employees can be even tougher. Because you know, eventually, they're gonna leave.

GREG HOUSE: There's increased T2 signal on her hepatic capsule. [looking at Wilson] If you know what I mean.

JAMES WILSON: You got hurt. Get over it

Alone, Season 4, episode 1

House is beginning now to form an attachment to his new team, his strongest one being with 13 since they share similar qualities.

Wilson and Cuddy, again for me, are the people that keep House going. Wilson seems to be House’s conscience while Cuddy seems to be his armor. Because Wilson and Cuddy “protect” him to use Wilson’s words, House pushes them the hardest, because he values them the most. House on many occasions, pushes those two characters in ways that many of us would never take. He says hurtful, but never the less, truthful things that force those characters to re-examine themselves.

Wilson and House are an interesting relationship. Many people think it is one of a homosexual relationship, personally I do not think that, but sometimes they do set themselves up. I actually think that their relationship, rather than that of a homosexual one, is actually mis-interpreted. It’s a relationship of dependency. Both characters suffer from deep rooted problems of neediness. House, as Cuddy put it, is “the long distance runner of neediness” and is ironically, seeking approval through his sarcasm. Wilson accepts House as what he is and who he is,
although sometimes he plots with Cuddy to help House’s quality of life improve, generally Wilson only interferes in House’s life to remind him of what’s important, and tries to force House to look at himself and analyze his actions and what he wants and needs. Wilson needs the same thing from House, he too is constantly looking for approval, his ex-wife Bonnie talks about his being “a knight in white shining armor”. Those type of people that seem to be perfect are really creating an illusion about their personality because they are afraid of what people will think of them if they are honest. Wilson is at his most comfortable with House because House takes him as he is, and even when House forces Wilson to look at his flaws, Wilson knows House will always come back. House needs Wilson as a constant person in his life, because although romantic relationships will come and go, friendships normally stay. That idea is very important for House’s fear of being left alone which is why we saw House fight so hard for Wilson when he tried to leave.

Cuddy as I said before serves as House’s armor, better than Wilson does. Cuddy protects House from the normal things like law suits, going to jail, angry patients etc but she, more importantly, protects him emotionally. As was confirmed in a recent interview with Lisa Edelstein, Cuddy has known House from college. Therefore, like Wilson, she has been a constant source of “friendship” (to use to term loosely) for House. After Stacy left, Cuddy gave House another shot at life, by literally saving his life as a doctor, but also by hiring him at PPTH and creating a new diagnostic department for him. She protected him from himself and his self pity and allowed him to move on from his betrayal. SHE finds cases for him, SHE forces him to do clinic duty in a hope he will build up his faith in humanity and SHE forces him to look at the human side of science and sometimes reflect on the
insane theories he is shoving in her face. Her protection can be missed by many, because it is quite subtle but it has always been there and was shown at the end of season 4 when the camera showed Cuddy holding onto House’s hand. Again she was protecting him, she wouldn’t let him wake up alone and see that even Wilson, perhaps the person closet to him, was no longer there for him. She hoped that by being there for him herself, it would somehow compensate for Wilson not being there. Cuddy is an essential and important part to House and he realizes that, that is why he pushes her so hard, why he was such a bastard to her in “Joy” and “Finding Judas” and pretty much on regular occasions, ironically by pushing her away he is trying to see how much she cares for him and therefore how much he should care and depend on her.

“Joy” and “Lucky 13” serve to show the viewers quite plainly House’s vulnerability and his fear of being alone, but that will be discussed after Cuddy.

Cuddy

I have always thought that Cuddy was by far the most miserable character on the show. House is the obvious misery, his social distance and leg pain often make him the subject of pity. Cuddy’s misery on the other hand is far more subdued since she is not the focus of the show. Funnily enough though, the writers give us plenty of hints toward her misery, House comments on it frequently, as a character she has cried more times than the others and truly nothing ever works out for her. Her misery is most often showed through the baby arc, but like stated above that will be talked about after a look on her fear of relationships.

Truth be told, Cuddy is as messed up as House is when it comes to giving herself completely to someone else, even as a friend. I read an article recently that stated that Cuddy doesn’t have any friends and it seems that she is only ever
comfortable to go out with somebody socially when its with Wilson, who, when Cuddy is questioned by House, turns out to be the result of a whim of Cuddy’s to have a friend. Like the author of that article pointed out, what emotionally steady and developed person would try to seek out a friend? Cuddy has given up a lot of things to be where she is, things that at the time didn’t seem so important. Friends, family, love, she gave those things up for her position in the working force, but now that she has risen to the top she has looked back and realized what she has missed along the way.

Ironically, what Cuddy wants now more than anything is love, but has no idea how to give it. She uses online internet dating as a route to finding love. But even this is a step back from commitment. Like House, Cuddy is so afraid of being rejected, or in her case failing, that she doesn’t look for a man in her life, or a stranger in the coffee shop she “clicks” with. Rather she goes online, puts up a profile, talks with the person and then sometimes goes out on a date with them. She needs to be in control, she needs to know that the person will like her before going out on the date so that it has a chance of succeeding. House sums her up pretty well in this conversation:

HOUSE: Actually, your eyes tell us nothing, 'cause we're looking at your boobs--Which tell us that you're desperate to have
someone jump on you and tell you they love you, one grunted syllable at a time. What you want, you run away from. What you need, you don't have a clue. What you've accomplished makes you proud. [pause] But you're still miserable.

No More Mr. Nice Guy, season 4, episode 13

She’s desperate for human contact, or physical contact to maybe compensate for her lack of love which is why she almost sleeps with Don on the first date, and as House points out, why she wears extremely low cut tops. But it seems that Cuddy may have given up on her hope for love between a partner and has gone for the “unrelenting love” of a baby. She sees this as a way of acquiring the love she so desperately needs but can’t get because of her fear.
As I mentioned above, Cuddy is in my opinion the most miserable character. House not only points it out in “No More Mr. Nice Guy” but also in “Humpty Dumpty”.

House: Now would the world be a better place if people never felt guilty? Makes sex better. [points to Stacy with his cane] Should have seen her in the last months of our relationship. Lot of guilt. Lot of screaming. I know this wasn’t just because it was your roof. Cuddy…you see the world as it is and you see the world as it could be. What you don’t see is what everybody else sees. The giant, gaping chasm in between.

Cuddy: House, I’m not naïve. I realize—
House: If you did, you never would have hired me.

[Cuddy doesn’t answer.]

House: You’re not happy unless things are just right. Which means two things. You’re a good boss. And you’ll never be happy.

Humpty Dumpty, season 2, episode 3

Cuddy views the world differently than most of the characters in the show, she sees what it could be and what it is and strives to make it that way. In that way she is far more idealistic than Cameron is, whoose empathy is often mistook as idealism. Cuddy is an idealist and a perfectionist, these two traits together help us understand her fear of rejection. She sees what her love should be, what she should be and then sees her present situation. She sees what she doesn’t have and tries to fix it pragmatically. What she doesn’t see is the “gaping chasm in between” which is reality and will always hold her back from her dreams, in “Joy” this “chasm” is embodied by the mother of the child.

The baby arc

So down to why this article was written in the first place, the baby arc. As stated above, both House and Cuddy find it very difficult to form relationships with people because of the deep insecurities. But the baby arc is quite special, it was/ is Cuddy’s way of finding love, and in House’s opinion a loss of one of the relationships he has worked so hard to measure. When House first found out about Cuddy’s desire to become a mother in “Forever” and “Who’s Your Daddy” he became Cuddy’s confidant by default since it was easier to use House rather than to have to include someone else on her mission
(another aspect of her fear of rejection). House acted extremely out of character, in the good way, in that he kept her secret even from Wilson and managed to act “respectfully” towards Cuddy with the injections and the sperm donors. He managed to actually be a “friend” to her. I think this is rooted in that he wanted to be a part of her life somehow, he wanted to be able to do something, and since he didn’t have to expose himself to help Cuddy out this was his perfect opportunity. The viewers could tell by his childish grin as he left the hospital with Wilson in “Forever” after an uncomfortable encounter with Cuddy that he enjoyed knowing something about Cuddy, Wilson didn’t know and being trusted by Cuddy.

House of course ruined this, when he used Cuddy’s failure to conceive against her when he was angry at her taking him off his pills. He hurt Cuddy very deeply and she would think twice about asking for his help the next time her biological clock’s ticking got too much for her. “Lucky 13” was the result of the ticking, Cuddy had decided to give up on the invetro and decided this time upon adoption. Wilson invites House to crash the “baby shower” as Cuddy is picking out a crib and he learns about the new path her life is taking. As the viewers and Wilson and Cuddy look on expectantly waiting for some sarcastic comment about her ass or her boobs, we and they are given something that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. House’s face, for once, is devoid of any mask, any wall he may have put it is suddenly broken
down as we see his fear of rejection, of betrayal of being alone plastered across his face. He sees Wilson and Cuddy, cozy together picking out a crib and realizes that he is indeed alone. He is stuck in a emotional rut whereas Wilson and Cuddy are both finding a way out, Wilson is moving on from Amber and Cuddy is finding her love elsewhere. He realizes that he will have no part in the baby, and while before he enjoyed Cuddy trying to get pregnant because he was a part of it, now he views the child as a threat, someone to replace him in Cuddy’s mind. This is the set up for “Joy”.

House is incredibly hostile towards the baby idea throughout the episode of “Joy”. As many people have said, there have only been a handful of times I have ever wanted to slap House and this episode makes up most of them, he was a particular bastard to Cuddy this episode, but upon reflecting on his actions, they were stemmed from a deep fear of loosing another relationship he valued. He tries all of his usual games with Cuddy, he tosses baby vomit on her clothes, breaks her lamps, talks about all of the ways Cuddy is not prepared to be a mother but nothing works.

Wilson: You’re just mad because Cuddy is moving onto high school while you’re stuck repeating the 8th grade.

Joy, season 5, episode 6

No matter what House tries, Cuddy is determined to become a mother. But cruely, her world
envisioned is yet again crushed by reality, or the “gaping chasm” known as the birth mother, and House need not fear, Cuddy isn’t going anywhere. Cuddy looses yet another chance to have a baby.


House and Cuddy are both emotionally tormented by self doubt and fears for the future. Though House and Cuddy go about trying to solve their misery in different ways, both suffer from similar insecurities. The baby arc and “Joy” play with House and Cuddy’s deep need for relationships and the ironic flaws in their personalities which will forever doom them to solitude.