You Can't Always Get What You Want
Anyone who watches House M.D. on a regular basis will have by now picked up on two phrases that seem to be the slogans of the show: “Everybody Lies” and “You Can't Always Get What You Want.” The first slogan of the show, “Everybody Lies”, seems to be House's philosophy about people. Knowing that Dr. House is the antisocial, misanthrope and very miserable person that he is, this statement which he utters frequently, very nicely sums up the entire view House has for humanity. He finds them un-useful, un-trustworthy and not worthy of spending time with because you'll never get the truth, which to House, is the most important thing.
The other slogan of the show, “You Can't Always Get What You Want”, seems instead to be the universal message of the show (along with “Its never Lupus) to speak to all of its viewers and to speak for all of its characters. This slogan is what I have decided to write this article on.
The Phrase itself comes from the band The Rolling Stones and is actually the title of a very famous song written by the singer Mick Jagger (known to House as the “Great Philosopher”) called, "You Can't Always Get What You Want." The song, if you listen to it, reminds you very much of the show with sly little anecdotes like, “Standing in line with Mr. Jimmy,”(bear in mind this song was written in the 60s...I think!). The song was first used in the pilot at the end of the episode giving a closure sense to the pilot and, more importantly, it set up the entire mood of House MD. It was also referenced to in this quote: (House MD, Pilot)
Well, like the philosopher Jagger once said, “You can’t always get what you want.”
And later used by Cuddy back at him:
Oh, I looked into that philosopher you quoted, Jagger, and you’re right, “You can’t always get what you want,” but as it turns out “if you try sometimes you get what you need.”
These quotes are the core of the show. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Summarizes how a lot of people feel, how life can suck and how things that you desperately want and things you think you deserve, you may not always be able to get. Certainly this feeling is felt by many characters of the show, but that will be talked about later. But let’s not forget what Cuddy says in response which is just as important. “If you try sometimes you get what you need.” Though the show may be depressing at times and deals with generally miserable people, its true message is shown in that one line. “You get what you need,” a truly uplifting statement that gives hope to everyone that everything will be alright, just keep pushing. Again this is what keeps the characters going and is what many of the characters want for House, who never tries for anything; they want him to try for happiness, because he might actually get it.
House, as the main character of the show this phrase is most suited to him. House really pities [
himself, that's why when he goes home he goes and gets wasted, he stays at home and doesn't bother to go out with anyone and stubbornly remains miserable because he's so afraid of the change being happy could bring. He very truly believes that "You Can't Always Get What You Want" aplies to him, but what he hasn't quite grasped is the second clause stated above. House has many things he wishes he could change about his life, the most obvious one being his leg. The infarction has not only crippled him for life but also is a reason for his dependency on Vicodin and constant pain. Its obvious though he jokes about being a cripple and uses it to manipulate people, often enough the bitterness shows. A more subtle regret about his life is how he treats people. Generally I don't think he gives a crap about what people think of him, but every now and again he is forced to deal with something he's said or done that has truly hurt someone he has cared about. We, as fans, can interpret many different actions for apologies and regret, but the only times we ever really see House's regret for past actions is in the season finale, "Wilson's Head," and in the Stacy Arc.
The Stacy Arc showed us House's past, before the infarction and gave us clues to his unbearable misery after the surgery. The fact that Stacy left him means he must have really made her life hell.
Okay, I blow my smoke into the vents so Mark doesn't know
I always knew it
You started two weeks after my surgery. Menthols, then lights after a month
Why didn't you say anything?
'Cause it helped me monitor your misery level. One trip outside was a good day, upwards of six you were in hell
You could have asked me how I was!
I already knew. Sorry you were miserable
Will House ever get what he wants?
I think he truly regrets that he pushed her away so much because he loves her. This can really be seen in the season 1 finale, "Honeymoon," at the very end where the show once again plays, "You Can't Always Get What You Want," to emphasize on House's misery.
House has yet to admit that, “If you try sometimes you get what you need,” but in fact other characters have forced themselves onto House giving House what he needs by default. Wilson, Cuddy and House's past team have all had their moments letting House into their lives and giving him the acceptance he so needs.
(THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR FINALE!)
Wilson may seem on the outside like the man who has his entire life in check. He is pleasant, polite, intelligent, funny and handsome. He leads a humble life of helping people get through terminal diseases but as House puts it once:
Mr. Well-adjusted is as messed up as the rest of us. Why would you keep that a secret? Are you ashamed of recognising how pathetic your life is?
Happiness that was short-lived
Wilson has a desperate need for everyone to like him, its almost compulsive. Wilson, as his ex-wife Julie puts it, is your knight in white shining armour fitting your every desire. He puts on this front, this fake Wilson because he is afraid that people won't like the real him. He lets people walk all over him which is evident in, "Living the Dream," when he buys the bed Amber wanted anyway after she told him to buy the bed he wanted(though later she makes him buy the one he wanted...but the first thing proves my point better). Its evident in Wilson past that he can't get what he wants, he wants somebody who will love him for who he is, which he hasn't found because once women find out who he is they fall out of love, or Wilson gets tired of being the knight and falls off the pedestal.
What does Wilson need now?
Very recently though Wilson finally got what he needed, he got Amber. Amber actually forced him to break out of his armour and embrace his wants so he wouldn't resent her for it later. Amber understood Wilson.Unfortunatly for him she was taken away from him, therefore once again proving the point, "You Can't Always Get What You Want," but now the question is if Amber's love was what Wilson wanted, what does Wilson need now?
Now to warn you all this might sound anti-Hameron or anti-Chameron, I'm honestly not trying to, this is just my opinion on how Cameron fits the slogan.
Cameron and House
Cameron, the sweet, innocent, trusting and slightly navie fellow is, or at least used to be a foil to House's antisocial character. This is what drew her to House the old opposites attract stereotype. The Hameron arc was full of tension as the viewers saw the possibility of House having a new relationship after Stacy. Cameron very much wants respect from House as a doctor but for a while she wanted something a little bit more. Something that either House was to broken to give her or didn't want to give her, either way the feelings were never truly reciprocated and Cameron couldn't get what she wanted. Then Chase came along. Even as Cameron puts it:
The point here is to make things simpler, not more complicated. Someday there'll be time to get serious about someone. Meanwhile, we already had sex once and didn't get weird about it. So…
I get it. I get it. So, what if I'm offended by your judgement.
Then you're not the man I'm looking for. (She walks off, he smiles and follows.)
Chase starts off as her sex buddy, someone to let off steam with. He is essentially what she needs. He very soon turns into something that she doesn't want, or at least fools herself into thinking she doesn't want as she pines after House, but can't get away from him because deep down Chase is really what she needs.
Cameron is also the character who had the biggest shock coming to work for House. She was a devoted, caring and empathetic doctor who was forced many times to pick between her job and her morals. Not only that
You get what you need
but her sense of society was completely turned on its head. Her opinion of people are good was proven wrong time and time again. What Cameron wants is the world to be perfect and for everyone to be happy, which can never happen because it is unrealistic. The things that keep Cameron going, or at least what she needs, are the small moments of humanity people show that will put a smirk on her face as she once more argues with House about the nature of people.
As most people can see with the show, Cuddy's life is not a bed of roses. From having to deal with House's obnoxious attitude all day to the heaving mounds of paperwork she forced to do, it is no wonder Cuddy has no personal life.
Cuddy's attempts for a baby never work out
She must resort to internet dating and "turkey baster" as her last means to having a life outside of the hospital. Because after all what Cuddy wants more than anything is love. Maybe not in the form of physical love, but she wants somebody to need her which is why her desire for a baby is so strong. A baby would give her unconditional love that wouldn't be mocked and thrown back at her. Cuddy's desire is so strong it sometimes blocks her judgement as shown in "Fetal Posistion" and House immediatly picks up on it:
Since when does the Dean of Medicine run bladder taps?
She’s an important patient.
Because she takes pictures? Or because she’s you? Woman in her forties. Single. Using a turkey baster as a last gasp of motherhood. And you want to make sure she succeeds, so you’ll still have hope. Can’t be a good doctor if you’re not objective.
But as the show always seems to do, it never quite lets its characters get what they want and all fertility medication she takes and Invetro-fertilizations don't take hold and Cuddy cannot get pregnant, and who knows if she ever will. I think for now Cuddy has given up on having a baby, surely figuring that the pain of dissapointment is not worth the small chance anymore. (I hope it comes back again though!) I think what Cuddy needs is the attention House, and sometimes Wilson, give her. This is not a Huddy statement, I truly think it is a fact. Because Cuddy is an administrator, I think she feels alienated by the rest of the hospital because she holds their paychecks. House breaks the social conventions,
What does Cuddy really want?
of being scared of your boss and truly tells her what he thinks. He treats her as though he would treat anyone else and I think this attention, along with the attention to her "assests" (to use a euphenism), reminds her of what its like to have a "normal" relationship with somebody. Wilson and House interactions with her are what Cuddy needs, friends (well at least Wilson) and some sort of connection to another person, making up for her lack of love. Now the question remains, if she has given up on the baby what source of love is she wanting now? (sorry couldn't help it!)
Chase's wants and needs are not so cleary shown in the show because he is often overshadowed by characters whoose needs are on display every episode, chase's on the otherhand are subtle and can be missed. Chase wants Cameron (and eventually got Cameron but I'm not focusing on that), but what Cameron represents is something much more. What Chase truly wants is
Nothing is enough
respect from House. House is an authority figure to Chase and since his childhood did not present with such a figure, Chase latches onto House and admires him very much. Cameron was considered House's property, she had a thing for him and was to be House's possesion and pretty little accesory to wear on his arm. Chase took Cameron away from House, stealing his possesion and therefore fully defying his authority, in some way making a statement to House and subcoinciously forcing House to accept Chase as a rival and respect him. Chase may never get respect from House but he has got his independence, which is what he truly needed. Working under House only fueled Chase's desire to be respected and his bitterness when nothing is enough is shown in "Finding Judas," after House punches him:
[resentfully] He nearly maimed a little girl. I got it right. And I told him, and it didn't matter.
Chase, you solved one. You helped a patient. That better be enough for you. Beckett was going to call his
I like him better this way, don't you?
play "Waiting for House’s Approval", but thought it was too grim.
[forcefully spreading jelly on the bread] Trust me, I'm not waiting any more.
Now that Chase works as a surgeon he has finally started to develop and has become a independent and confident individual who can stand up not only to House but to Cuddy as well. (Living the Dream)
Foreman is another character who's wants and needs are not openly displayed often but have
Foreman's biggest fear is to turn into House
been brought into light when he quit in season 3. Foreman wants to be someone he's not. He wants to be a medical genuis, like House, but to be kind and compassionate, unlike House. But as much as he tries to be that compassionate doctor, hints at his real personality come through: when he steals Cameron's article, performs the bone marrow extraction on the young kid and more recently his risky treatment of patients that got him fired at the other hopsital. No matter how hard Foreman wants to be the person he deems as "good", you can't always get what you want.
Foreman can never quite get away
Instead Foreman gets by on self approval. When Foreman fights with House, he not only fights about the medicine because he does not agree, he fights to prove to himself that he is above House morally and can seperate ethics from medicine. This feeling is what Foreman needs, this assurance that he is not House and never will be House.
Its been said many a time that people often want what they can't get. People pine for the things that they think will make them happy, missing the things they have that keep them going. "You Can't Always Get What You Want," maybe is because what you want isn't what is good for you but the things you need, the things that will truly make you happy are only an arm's strech away. Maybe its our nature to create desire, want, jealously and envy to keep our lives interesting when we have what we need.
I don’t want to be in pain, I don’t want to be miserable. And I don’t want him to hate me.
Well, you can't always get what you want.
But sometimes you can get what you need