Reflections on the TV series “House M.D.”

Газета коммунистическая

(Communist paper)

Reflections on the TV series “House M.D.”



Modern bourgeois media industry is all-out ideological hegemony of the market thinking. Thousands of “creators” – yea-sayers and toadies, being remunerated, convince any viewer that capitalism is the only way of social organization. They create pieces of work which take a thought away of reality and key problems of the society, or glorify the capitalism as a perfect thing, or denounce capitalism as a terrible thing, but definitely not as an alternative social system. Their product is wrapped in a modern bright packing, it has a huge circulation and fills the media space. According to financial costs only military spending can compete with the costs of global media industry. The bourgeoisie clearly understands that the cultural level of thinking and culture of perception of the broad proletarian masses are presented in such a way, that media products are the most effective for a brainwashing.

According to philosophical methodology practically, idealism is everything for media space. Firstly, the creators are idealists themselves; secondly, pluralism and social subjectivity are very primitive and useful products of philosophical idealism for an ideological domination of the bourgeoisie, that’s why they are encouraged. The masses are implanted with the way of thinking that is not capable scientifically and adequately reproduce the reality and does not allow for true conclusions.

Soviet scholar of popular culture B. Raynov rightly points out that: “Popular culture as usually replaces the aesthetic pleasure with the primitive pleasure, entertainment, frees the user from the deep emotional distress and mental stress. It gives no knowledge but the illusion of knowledge … and even acts as anesthesia. These features turn “the mass culture” into convenient means of public exclusion from burning issues of our time and real-life conflicts, promote the planting of apathy, disorientation of the world view, promote spiritual laziness and intellectual atrophy, degradation of aesthetic taste” (1).

Withdrawal from life, from understanding of social development laws – that’s the path for readers, viewers and listeners from the product creators of “mass culture”. This treatment deepens into psychology or into petty-bourgeois domestic ignorance. The examples are not far to seek, recently in the popular television program of A. Malakhov was discussed quite a serious for Russia issue of illness and rehabilitation of cancer patients. Moreover, the incidence of cancer is increasing, so in 2011 in Russia were revealed 522,410 new cases of cancer, but only in the territorial specialized cancer institutions in Russia were registered 2,900,629 patients (2).

When it came to discussing of the cancer’s appearing causes in this or that person, it is amazing, but everyone in the studio agreed that it was “a trial, send down by God, in order to return at the right way the man, who took a wrong way”. Such programs present a reflection of the big business’ social order and at the same time a level of expression aesthetic and ethical requirements as of the market herd, so of artistic and economic pastors also” (3).

Unfortunately, most of those, who were presented at the program, cultivated the ignorance at the Middle Ages’ level. With so flawed vision of reality we can’t even talk about the question of human emancipation, about that leap from the Empire of Necessity to the Empire of Freedom, which Engels described in his “Anti-Dühring” (4).

Quite often we meet people who judge the unknown person they met for the first time, just on the basis of the zodiacal sign and horoscope data. How can a man who believes in supernatural powers and admits his complete abidance and dependence on them to take appropriate decisions in certain life circumstances? A social practice in its entirety reveals this disability for thousands of years. Since the rise of private property the vast majority of the world population lead an aimless life in poverty and oblivion, drove out beyond the historical context’s scope and from the history pages members of the ruling classes of all times and peoples, colors and grades proudly look down on us. History is written by someone who at least can write, for the short history of writing masses remained illiterate and deprived of any opportunities for development and learning.

It should also be noted that in the 90-s, in the era of primitive accumulation of capital in the Russian Federation, the mystical thinking was wide-spread. Chaos and anarchy of social life caused by the plunder of socialist public property, market competitive struggle in the minds of suburban proletarians and young petty bourgeois was created a sense of unseen external forces’ domination, which were interpreted in magical, mystical way. Today, when Russian capitalism moved into state-monopoly stage, the public mind took a step from the subjective idealist consciousness into the objective- idealist consciousness. Therefore mysticism fades into the background and puts forward an ordered bourgeois view of the national capital’s world domination without any alternatives. Now exploitation presents for a proletarian not the form of losses in a market competition (with the hope to be lucky to win – and become even petty, but bourgeoisie), but the system of state-private corporate order, where if you do your job well, the social elevator takes you on the half of floor in the end of life. There are no special illusions and much misunderstanding of oligarchy domination and its tight connection to the forceful state. So, there is no mysticism of hopes to get rich, as there is no magical and mystical thinking.

A consciousness is always late in comparison with an existence, it grasps and fixes changes with a delay. Following this peculiarity let’s regard some critical features, natural sprouts criticism of idealism in the media, on the example of one of the most popular series in the history of the world cinema – “House” (“House, M.D.”).
The series, “a pilot batch” which was launched on November 16th in 2004 on TV channel FOX, tells the story of an outstanding diagnostician Gregory House and his team, the genre is “a medical detective story with the elements of drama” (5).

The series had a runaway success, so in 2008 at the peak of interest in the series, each episode of “House, M.D.” gathered at the screens on the average 81.8 million people (i.e., the total potential audience of the series in 66 countries amounted about 1.6 billion viewers) and Hugh Laurie, the star of TV series “House” (“House, M.D.”), was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the actor, who attracted to television screens the greatest number of people in history.

What made this series so popular? It’s definitely not the plot, which remained practically unchanged for eight seasons. 177 series are identical, the structure of which can be divided (with rare exceptions) into two parts: 1) introduction shows the events that precede an onset of the patient’s symptoms; 2) establishing diagnosis – during the whole episode a team of doctors led by House tries to identify the disease that causes these symptoms.

Perhaps viewers were attracted by the authenticity of the doctors’ work? However, the doctors since the release of the series pointed to an infinite number of mistakes made by the creators of the show, not only in the disease treatment, but also from the ethical side. After detailed study of all episodes’ plots, the researchers came to the conclusion that there were demonstrated 179 cases of violation of medical ethics in 11 different spheres from the informed consent of the patient (such violations occurred frequently than others) and an unacceptable breakaway from the accepted standards of care to the spare-part surgery and transplantation experiments with humans (6).

All these drawbacks, of course, have a place to be and in general rightly point to the distortions of the real image of the doctor-diagnostician made by the creators of the series. However, the majority of the audience does not care how truly the medical terminology is, whether the methods of diagnosis and treatment in series correspond to real life practice of physicians, they are fascinated by the main character and his worldview. Dr. House played by Hugh Lorrie turned out, I dare say, a spontaneous dialectics. The creators of the show unlikely realized it, they just turned their prevailing materialistic outlook on the House character. That is why he is extremely attractive. This, I think, the key to understanding a success of the series among the masses all over the world.

Let’s consider the features of Dr. House methodology. In the system of building theoretical and practical organization of any work Dr. House rightly gives priority to the theoretical, that couldn’t make so-called communists from the parties with communist titles. Let’s, for example, look at the article “On the political ignorance and its results”, where comrade Sarmatov rightly notes: “Just as a reasonable person thinks firstly and then acts, the practice is carried out according to the theory and derived from it” (7).
From the first series we learn of Dr. House’s approach features of treatment, which can be divided into several stages:

1) collection of the facts (analysis and information about the patient);
2) development of the theory;
3) verification of the theory in practice.

In general this is the basis of any particular activity and spontaneous materialism of any live practice forces all the professionals of the world to follow a similar approach. But the cultivation of this spontaneous materialism in the character of fashionable series looks very pretty. In most cases, at the establishing diagnosis Dr. House is forced to go back to the beginning of this algorithm, dictated by the lack of factual material or its deliberate distortion by the patients themselves.

“Everybody lies!” – this is the motto of Dr. House, which serves as the leitmotif of entire series. The most surprising is that “everybody lies” – this is not a primitive vulgar spitting for spectator’s interest. He doesn’t talk about the depravity of man (humanity) as it bumblers like to do, but in a purely materialistic way explains the incompetence and lie of all the socio-economic conditions, surrounding the person.

That’s why the conversation that took place in the first episode of the first season in the hospital canteen between Dr. House and his colleague is curious. The conversation touched one of the most doubtful diagnostic methods used by Dr. House – an illegal entry into the apartment without the patient’s knowledge. Dr. House tells his colleague that people cannot take a word and gives an interesting example. Pointing to the saleswoman in the canteen, House said: “That woman, who made the sandwich with egg and salad for you, has glazy eyes, and the policy of the hospital is such: if you are sick – stay home! But earning 8 bucks an hour you need these 8 bucks”. Probably, the private clinic, where Dr. House works, does not compensate the sick days, that forces the woman to hide her illness, even if this infection is dangerous for others.

Here House comes closer to the class approach on the causes of deviant behavior in the society, pulled by class contradictions. The living conditions push people to act like they never would act, if they elementary had the opportunity to meet their basic needs. An example of the saleswoman in the canteen is just the tip of a giant iceberg of social contradictions inherent to the era of capitalism, which are clearly shown in the crime statistics. Engels wrote about such crimes: “The disrespect to social order most sharply expresses in its extreme manifestation – in the crime. If the reasons leading to the demoralization of worker, are stronger and more concentrated than usual, he is also inevitably becomes a criminal, as the water changes from liquid to gaseous state at 80 ° Reaumur. Under the influence of rough and stultifying treatment of the bourgeoisie the worker turns into the same substance devoid of his own will, like a water, and with the same necessity incurs to the laws of nature: there comes a point when he loses all freedom of action” (8)

The statistics data speak for themselves. In 2010 in Russia there were registered 2,628,800 crimes; 1,108,400 of which are thefts; 164,400 – are robberies and 24,500 – plunders. In the economic sphere were registered 190, 2 thousand crimes; 40, 8 thousand of which committed in large and extra-large sizes (9). Thus, half of all committed crimes are attempts to possess someone else’s property. No less eloquent figures on the social line-up of people, who committed crimes. In 2010 from 1,111,100 of identified criminals 730,300 – were persons without a regular source of income (10).

It is clearly seen that the criminality is a social phenomenon. Its reason – not the bad character, not “habitual” human tendency to violence, not “envy” and the existing system of social relations and material conditions of society. And they are such that a tiny minority ponce for account of a vast majority of workers. Reflected in the consciousness these “distortions” provoke such form of social behavior as the crime. The cause criminality with such a probability, that the lower a level of culture, the more primitive the way of thinking and more primitive the poverty.

As we can see, the roots of crime in the domination of private property, and those crimes that are not related to the property, according to their causes always fall into one category of socio-psychological deviations, which occur due to the effects of exploitation, oppression, subjugation, domination of market morality, so bump into the same private property (11).

Thus, House rightly argues that people sometimes have to lie, they are pushed by the system of social organization. Hence the main principle of Dr. House: to treat the disease, not communicating with the patient, thereby eliminating the subjective factor, based only on facts obtained from the comprehensive survey.
House diagnoses an illness, he often confronts with cases, where the collected facts (analyses), contradict each other, complicating the diagnosis. In these cases appears the dialectical methodology of Dr. House.

Usually the false theories in medicine, doubtful treatments, diagnostics’ errors are due to the breach of essential dialectic principles – universal interrelatedness and development. The fact, hat a whole world, all things and phenomena are in different relations, connections and all of them are interdependent. The general connection expresses the continuity of an objective world, its internal cohesion, interconnection, interdependence of all its constituent components – objects, phenomena and processes.

This principle leads to important requirements, which any researcher is supposed to follow: a) to know the subjects and phenomena, it is necessary to cover all the connections and relations, the peculiarities of things are appearing through them; b) it is necessary to study their maximum amount, it will insure us against one-sided and superficial approach; c) it is important to highlight the internal, consequential and system connections, they reveal an essence and a specificity of events.

On the other hand, the principle of development is not only asserts that everything is in change and development, but requires to properly understand the source, mechanism and tendency of development. For a better understanding of the reality, it is necessary to examine objects and phenomena in the dynamics of their development.

In view of the fact that different diseases have certain stages of their development and a similar clinical picture, an observation of patients in the dynamics is the key to the right diagnosis.

Methodology of House fully complies with these fundamental principles. For example, in the first series of the season at the diagnosis establishing, there is a situation when have been tried all possible treatments, but nothing helped. The disease progressed rapidly, and House’s team had three different diagnoses. In such a situation, House takes an unexpected decision – to cancel all the treatment, arguing that it is necessary to know how quickly the disease progresses, it means to assess the dynamics of its development to make a right diagnosis. There are many similar examples. During all 177 episodes of series House consistently applies the dialectical method in the diagnosis of diseases.

It is quite interesting an agnostic criticism of religious world view in the series. Every season has at least one series, which concerns an issue of religion (the list of episodes: 1-05; 2-19; 3-12; 3-24; 4-03; 4-12; 4-16; 5-15; 7-08; 8-18). These series are the key to understand the peculiarities of Dr. House’s world view and they are the most interesting by its content. The main difference between these series is that at first glance patients are very religious people – a catholic nun; a 15-year-old preacher, who claims that God speaks with him; “baalat tshuva” – an inobservant the rites Jewish Rose, who returned to traditional Judaism, the Cuban emigrant, etc.

House with his special enthusiasm communicates with such patients, following his above-mentioned approach, he seeks to understand the motives of these people, to solve the external causes that have led them to belief in God, to show their stupidity and ignorance, and often in order to bring them into the light. For example, in the 19th episode of the second season, having learned that the patient (15-year-old preacher) communicates with God, House ironically notices: “If you talk to God – you are a believer, if God talks to you – you are crazy”. Breaking his approach, he goes to the patient and asks from the doorway: “Faith is synonymous with ignorance, isn’t it? I have never understood how you can be proud of your belief that it is impossible to prove, as if it is a feat”. House outrages that a teenager proclaims himself “the voice of God”, and people with advanced degrees listen to him. In my view, it is difficult not to share his outrage. It is surprising how in the XXI century the medieval nonsense is still able to clog the minds of people, however, this phenomenon has its objective and subjective reasons.

House points out in discussions about faith with his friend on subjective reasons, saying: “I would understand if people are looking for a way to plug the holes, but they like these holes, they want to live in them. And they go crazy when someone pours a mud into these holes”. Despite the enormous scientific advances in the knowledge of reality, which opens up unprecedented horizons, for majority it is more convenient to be in the state of delusion, not bothering their brain with superfluous, in their opinion, cognitive activity. A nimble critical thinking, which seeks to get to the truth, now is a rarity. House appeals: “Come out of your holes, people!”.

Lenin exhaustively pointed out the objective causes of this condition: “The economic oppression of workers inevitably causes all kinds of political oppression, social denigration, coarsening and darkening of the spiritual and moral life of masses. Workers can get a greater or lesser degree of political freedom in the struggle for their economic emancipation, but freedom will not save them from the poverty, unemployment and oppression till the power of capital won’t be displaced. Religion is one of the forms of spiritual oppression, lying everywhere on the masses oppressed by the eternal work for the others, want and loneliness. The debility of exploited classes in the struggle against exploiters is also inevitably produces faith in a better life after death as debility of the savage to stand against the nature produces faith in gods, devils, miracles, etc. The person who worked all his life and needs, religion teaches to be humble and patient in this life, consoling with hope of heavenly reward. Those, who use someone else’s labor, religion teaches to help the charity on earth, offering them very cheap things for their all exploiting existence and selling the tickets at a reasonable price to a heavenly well-being. A religion is the opium of people. The religion – is a sort of spiritual corn juice, where the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demands for any decent human life” (12).

In the 5 th episode of the first season a patient – nun Augustine asks House why it is so hard for him – to believe in God, and House answers on this question, that he “cannot accept the concept of God, because faith is not based on logic and feelings”. Feeling – is a sort of philosophical crossing where people gather to break up forever, two opposite philosophical sects: materialism and idealism. There is no doubt that the only source of our knowledge is feeling, this fact recognize both: materialists and subjective idealists. Dr. House admits it too. However, on the assumption of feelings, you can move in two opposite directions: to follow the line of subjectivism, which leads to solipsism and you can follow the line of objectivism, which leads to materialism (feelings, essence, images of objects, outside world) (13). Which of these ways uses Dr. House to lead the viewer?

The 21st episode of the 1st season is curious, because House gives a lecture to young students, replacing their ill teacher. House explains to the students that often the patient’s life will depend on their solutions. House says: “It goes against everything you have been taught, but there is right or wrong answer. From the fact that you do not know the right answer (sometimes it is impossible to know it), your answer will not be correct or valid”. In fact, House reveals the materialist conception of truth – it is objective, so it does not depend on our experiences, consequently, a reality is also objective. Our feelings simply reflect an external world. And it’s true, though not for the whole series.

The image of House – it’s an image of scientist-materialist, who searches the truth, carefully collects the information and builds on its basis his theories, which he checks in practice later, taking nothing for granted. In the series, there are no episodes where you could find a rational explanation even, at first glance, the most mysterious cases of medical practice.

TV series “Dr. House” in a certain sense, as a breath of fresh air filled with molecules of materialistic philosophy.

The series is a reflection of the class struggle in ideology, a reflection of criticism of idealism within the idealistic media, exposing the internal instability of capitalism. Unprecedented in the history popularity of this series confirms the interest of masses in materialism, rationalism, which will inevitably increase. “We firmly believe, – wrote Marx, – that practical experiments are not truly dangerous [for bourgeoisie] as theoretical basis of communist ideas, because in practical experiments, if they will be massive, we can respond with guns as soon as they become dangerous; but the ideas, which possess our thoughts, subdue also our beliefs, which attracts our conscience by the mind – bonds, which impossible to escape without breaking your heart; daemons, that a person can defeat only by submitting to them” (14).
(1) Ref.: Raynov B. Popular Culture. – 1979 . – 490 p.

(2) Malignant New Growths in Russia in 2011 (morbidity and mortality) –Moscow, FSBU “P. A. Hertsen Moscow Cancer Research Institute”
Russian Ministry of Health . – 2013 . — P. 5.

(3) Podguzov V. Burning Secrets of the Market Intelligentsia / / Break. — Electronic resource:

(4) Ref.: F. Engels, Anti-Dühring. – Electronic resource:

(5) Ref.: House M.D. // Wikipedia. – Electronic resource: C4% EE% EA% F2% EE% F0_% D5% E0% F3% F1 # cite_note-18


(7) Sarmatov V. On the Political Ignorance and its Results // Communist newspaper . – Electronic resource:

(8) Engels F. Statute of the Working Class in England. — Electronic resource:

(9) Rosstat. – Electronic resource:

(10) Rosstat. – Electronic resource:

(11) Ref.: Kutov R. Crime and its Causes. – Electronic resource:

(12) Lenin V. I. Socialism and Religion / / PSS. — Vol.12 . — P.142-143 .

(13) Ref.: Lenin V. I. Materialism and Empiriocriticism. – Electronic resource:

(14) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel . Cit , Vol 1. – P. 118.


E. Radajkin

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