Pessimism ponders the still-full glass

Though I think of myself as generally realistic with a dash of optimism, the perverse pessimism of James’ song Five-O appeals to me. It goes beyond love song to fret about even the happy ending: “If it lasts forever, hope I’m the first to die.”

Even though the second season is still over a month away, and the first season entertained me far more than I deserve, I’m already dreading the bitter end of House as I know it. I keep saying it’s my favourite TV show since my love affair with the early West Wing, which keeps reminding me that later West Wing broke my heart.

The most comforting thought I have come up with is the fact that any deterioration in the show is likely to be gradual, so by the time I’m completely soured on it, I’ll be prepared. With The West Wing, I went from never missing it and hanging on every word, to gradually not being on the edge of my seat, to not watching it sometimes, to realizing it hurt too much to watch. It’s like the theory that if you put a lobster in cold water then slowly boil it, it won’t notice until it’s dead. But before the TV optimist in me was completely dead, House came along to win my affections.

Creator and executive producer David Shore told the Hollywood Reporter: “Our goal is to get so successful that people begin to dismiss us as being not as good as we used to be.” How can I not have faith in someone as witty and disarming as that? The pessimist’s answer: there’s no guarantee he’ll be at the helm until the end. He could pull a Sorkin and walk away, leaving a floundering show behind him. Or he could inexplicably succumb to John Wells syndrome, and turn the show into one of Dr. House’s beloved soaps.

What possesses me to invent reasons to worry about a trivial future I can neither influence nor predict? I suppose worrying about the minutia focuses my attention away from the non-trivial future I can neither influence nor predict. It’s yet another example of the power of entertainment – not only can I watch House for entertainment, I can worry about it for distraction. And that’s a … good thing?

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“I guess I just prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth.”
Janeane Garofalo
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