Shipping is for sailors

There’s a famous film editing experiment from the early 1900s that spawned the theory known as the Kuleshov Effect. Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov cut frames of an expressionless actor with a can of soup, a woman in a coffin, and a girl. The audience interpreted his expression differently depending on which they thought he was looking at.

Though its purpose was to demonstrate how filmmakers can manipulate the emotion of a scene, the experiment has stuck with me since Film Studies 101 as a nice metaphor for our tendency to see what we want to see in any context. I’m sure there was an experiment to prove that point more directly in Psychology 101, but that was an 8 a.m. class and not much stuck with me at that hour.

I’m ready to posit a variation on the theory: the Shipper Effect, where viewers see evidence for or against a relationship between TV characters depending on their own desire to see those characters together.

For the uninitiated, “shipping” is the practice of watching a show with the fervent desire to see two characters hook up. Relationshipping is, apparently, too clunky a word. In a show like Bones, the prevailing ship is obvious. In a show like House, there are different factions in the fandom, and each has enough ammunition to arm their ship because the writers are clever enough not to commit to a pairing, but to play with them all.

I’ve said it before – I don’t get the appeal of shipping. Looking at a show through that lens limits the show, in my mind. There’s often a degree of distorting events in order to be able to look at it through a particular lens, and there’s definitely a large degree of inflexibility. Shippers reject the idea of going along for the ride down roads not yet imagined, and long instead for the tired boy-meets-girl scenario to be fulfilled, despite the fact that once it is, we’ll inevitably get bored and stop watching.

When everyone’s happy, there’s no drama. When there’s no drama, there’s no audience … except for those who will watch the show in order to clog the Internet with their bitching about how it’s jumped the shark.

Even in shows where there’s a will-they-or-won’t-they pairing (so not, like House, where the main character has chemistry with every woman, some men, and various inanimate objects that step onto the set), getting those characters together never improves the show. If the shippers get what they want, tension will burst, ratings will plunge, and no one will live happily ever after, least of all the viewers. Moonlighting is the famous example, and I can’t think of an exception to the rule. Friends had to keep finding new ways to break up Ross and Rachel until a murder-suicide wouldn’t have offended me.

House has cleverly avoided that one obvious pairing they’d then have to deal with. By having more than one possibility, they won’t be faced with Frasier’s Daphne and Niles dilemma, where not getting the characters together starts to seem ludicrous by about season five.

So I don’t get shipping, but I do find it amusing to contemplate the shipper effect. A friend pointed out that I was a topic of conversation on a House board, and some of the discussion centred around my personal “agenda.” One poster disparagingly claimed I was a House/Cameron shipper, and another suggested she (it’s gotta be a she – do men discuss this kind of thing?) might want to tell the House/Cameron shippers that, since they firmly believe I’m a House/Cuddy shipper. Others pointed out that I’m a self-declared non-shipper.

I’m not an expressionless face cut with images of Cameron and Cuddy, but I have, in fact, expressed dismay at the idea of the show going down either path definitively, and joy at the charged moments between House and Cameron and House and Cuddy. What’s a shipper to think? It seems they can interpret my preference in opposite ways, depending on what they want to see. I want neither, so shippers can see either in my reviews, and ignore evidence to the contrary. Just as they can watch the show with an eye towards seeing evidence that House is meant to be with Cameron and ignoring his relationship with Cuddy, or that House is meant to be with Cuddy, and ignoring his relationship with Cameron.

Stepping into the reality of the series, if Cameron were my little sister, I’d be staging an intervention to try to cure her of her crush on House. There’s this nice Australian boy she works with …. As the series has progressed, House’s influence has led to Cameron’s hardening, to the point where the duckling he most maligned as being too soft has shown she’s capable of being calculating, cruel, and devious. She might be good for House, if he were capable of an intimate relationship, or if I believed the love of a good woman cures all, but he would definitely not be good for her.

Stepping into my reality where these characters are fictional and meant to entertain me, this is the pairing I think would doom the show no matter how the writers treated it. Because either Cameron needs to become an even flintier character, or House needs to soften in order for it to work. The glimpses we’ve seen of a softer House add nuances to his character and that relationship, but a House who’s cured of being an emotionally screwed-up mess would not be the House who propelled this show into one of the most compelling character studies on TV.

I don’t want to see House be an asshole to his sensitive girlfriend. That would make me think less of him. And I don’t want to see a Cameron who’s no longer sensitive and allows herself to be treated in an intimate relationship the way he treats her. That would make me think less of her.

In addition, Cameron fills a role on the show that would leave a gaping hole were she to move further toward the forces of darkness – and that’s not even considering the troubling Pygmalion overtones of that kind of transformation. Though she’s hardened, Cameron is still the one who cares and isn’t afraid to show it, who lets the patients affect her, who lets House know that his words can cut as sharply as the scalpel he unfathomably yields in “Fetal Position.” I don’t want her to be the Eliza Doolittle of callousness and glibness.

We already have a House. We already have a mini-House in Foreman. We already have a Cuddy who matches House barb for barb and lets them slide off her back … usually. The series needs the balance a sensitive Cameron provides.

I can see a relationship between House and Cuddy changing the dynamic between the characters and the chemistry of the series less than a House and Cameron relationship would, depending on how it played out. Cuddy is older, has more positional power (though that’s of course also an argument why she shouldn’t go there), and seems less likely to self-destruct under House’s influence. I still don’t want to see that pairing, unless it’s as an end game after the show’s 10 year run.

ER and Grey’s Anatomy are two of the many shows I abandoned partly because once everyone had slept with everyone else, the magic quickly disappeared. I have faith in the writers of House, but not so much that I think they could avoid the tedium of playing musical chairs with the main credits cast. House and Cuddy might have wonderfully snarky sex, as someone phrased it long ago on those same House boards, but there’s the very real danger of having nowhere to go with the relationship, or to take it too far and knock the snarky non-sexual relationship off balance.

If shippers derive additional pleasure from their shipping, that’s all that matters. But I think they’re missing out on the pleasures of being able to cheer at the hotness of the House/Cameron kiss as well as at the revelation that Cuddy and House had a night of passion in their past. I want to see where the writers take the show, not where fans whose collective amnesia makes them think they want happily-ever-after would take it.

So my fervent wish for the show is to keep them flirting. All of them. House/Cameron, House/Cuddy, House/Wilson, House/Random Guest Star. But I don’t want to see one of those ships sail, until the series is ready to sail off with it.

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23 Responses to Shipping is for sailors

  1. QuoterGal says:

    This is the best article I’ve read on shipping to date. Okay, it’s also the only article I’ve ever read on shipping, but it’s still good.

    Especially liked “I want to see where the writers take the show, not where fans whose collective amnesia makes them think they want happily-ever-after would take it.’

    I’d never heard of shipping until I got involved in an on-line fandom – and for months I still thought it was about problems that arose when fans didn’t receive ordered merchandise – but it seems to me to be the kind of focus or concern you have when you’re young. You may think that fiction is about “when the characters finally get together” and miss entire story aspects that don’t reflect your youth (and hormones.)

    Rooting for or against relationships in dramas – and really being invested about the outcome – seems to me almost akin to railing at some Powers That Be – not getting that what is gonna happen is gonna happen, whether or not you want it so.

    Thanks for your intelligence and calmitude about this (oddly inflammatory) topic.

  2. Jen says:

    Dear Diane:

    Did you ever know that you’re my hero? And everything that I would like to be?

    Sincerely,
    Jen

    P.S. I can fly higher than an eagle.

  3. Elen says:

    Ah, deekay, blogger of truth and light.

    😉

    I completely agree with your essay. And I don’t get ‘shipping either, really. I would be thrilled if House ended the series single, as long as he had some measure of happiness. Perhaps I’m biased as a single woman, but romantic pairing is not the be-all and end-all for me.

  4. DMc says:

    Wow. People are shipping Diane. cool.

    What’s next? Bill Cunningham Slash?

  5. phineyj says:

    Good lord – a sensible consideration of the pros and cons shipping. I never thought I’d see such a thing on the internet. Personally, I’ve had a lot of fun imagining the inevitable fallout if House got together with either Cuddy or Cameron, but I get so so tired of people treating these ‘ships’ like quasi-religions.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have been in fandom a loooooog time – yes FANDOM, which is an entirely different kettle of fish from being a fan of a show – you might say, FANDOM is a lifestyle choice. LOL!

    Anyway, having been involved in several fandoms I have all too much experience with the “shipper” phenomena. Sadly, I cannot recall one instance in which it ended well for the show or the fans when particular “shippers” actually got what they wanted. Relationships among characters became strained or non existant in order to put more focus on the “chosen” ship, or characters changed their personalities drastically in order to accomodate the “one true” ship. Thus much of the lovely underlying tensions among characters was stripped away, leaving a void.

    Generally, once certain shippers had their desires fullfilled, they got bored and moved on. In the process, other fans who happened to be interested in a different pairing ended up disappointed; feeling ignored or even mislead by the writers and the Powers That Be,they too moved on. In short, most of the fans “sailed” and the show “sank.”

    Shows with real staying power DO NOT commit to any one ship. They allow teasing glimpses and moments of unresolved tension than keep ALL fans happy and coming back for more. This is, in part, what FANDOM thrives upon, and is why some shows still have followings and make profits YEARS after they have gone off the air.

    With House, I would not mind seeing House father a child for Cuddy, because I think it would be interesting for House to confront his own mortality through the idea of some part of him living on….but a long term realtionship? Probably not. And I would not mind seeing House and Wilson hook up at the end of the series, if only because that would be such a dramtic step for the show and writers and network to take.

    However, I am certainly not invested enough in any “ship” to go around threatening the writers by claiming “All the IMPORTANT viewers want THIS ship and if the writers don’t do THIS ship they are going to loose all their viewers!” (Stomps foot)

    And from my experience, the writers never quite get it right anyway….

    P.S. I ditto the thought that many of the most outspoken, vocal shippers appear to be rather young. A generalization, I know, but that has been my impression across fandoms.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi, just had to give you some praise for this excellent post. Reading what you write is like reading my own thoughts nicely organized and explained for me . I get this feeling that say: This is EXACTLY what I think, I just couldn’t spell it out clearly even for myself!” It’s great. I always enjoy reading your posts and on this subject I couldn’t agree with you more.

  8. Diane says:

    Thanks guys! I know the shippers are probably cursing me privately, so it’s nice to see I’m not alone in this.

  9. Corien says:

    If I wasn’t a fan of yours already, I would be now 🙂

  10. Kristen says:

    So many people mention Moonlighting as an example why TV couples shouldn’t get together, but I don’t think it’s a valid argument for most shows. The focus of Moonlighting from the beginning was on the will they/won’t they relationship. Shows that aren’t solely focused on relationships can get couples together without ruining it for the people that ship that couple. The people that ship other couples may not be very happy, but that’s their own fault.

    I agree with you though on House. I an a fan of a ship on House, but the show is heavily enough character based that it would hurt to have House get involved in a serious relationship with someone at work. The basic problem is that House would either have to soften or he’d have to be a total asshole to his lover and the audience really doesn’t want to see that.

  11. Kristen says:

    I do usually ship the most obvious relationship provided to me by the writers – Mulder and Scully, Sheridan and Delenn, Harm and Mac, Grissom and Sara, House and Cameron. What baffles me is those whose ship requires the characters to change sexual orientation. House was in a long term relationship with Stacy for five years; he had sex with Cuddy a long time ago in the past. Wilson has been married to three women and is, according to House, a serial cheater with women. They’re not gay, and it’s highly unlikely they’re bisexual. House would have no qualms using his bisexuality or making passes at men to embarrass and make people uncomfortable.

    Great article though. I had heard you were a Huddy ‘shipper, but I see that that’s a false rumor.

  12. Diane Kristine says:

    Yeah, no, there’s a particular House/Cameron shipper who’s made up some weird stuff about me on various forums(she’s said I asked Kaplow why they write Cameron to be so annoying – huh?!) but while I can see House and Cuddy fitting together more, for all the reasons I stated above, I don’t want either pairing to take over the show. I like small doses of both.

  13. Anonymous says:

    “The people that ship other couples may not be very happy, but that’s their own fault. “

    Hmmm. I guess I have a bit of a problem with that point of view because it suggests that some ships are “better” than others, and that somehow certain fans are to “blame” for not liking the “right” ship, or for not wanting any particular ship featured at all. Whenever any ONE ship becomes canon, there are always going to be people who are disappointed, but is it right to hold them to blame for feeling differently?

    We all have our preferences, or lack of preferences. Me, I know Cameron/House was initally pushed, but frankly I never thought it would work. It seemed too one sided. Cameron seems totally wrong for House, and I fear he would walk all over her. So unless one of them underwent some drastic “love-induced” personality transplant, I just can’t see a positive outcome. So even though that was the ship the writers played with, it never rang true with me. Is that somehow my “fault”?

    Now the writers seem to playing with all sorts of ships, which can end up backfiring as well. Subtle is the name of the game. Once something becomes “canon” you have shut the door on all sorts of possiblities and painted your creativity into a much tighter corner.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This was definitely a very informative article on shippers. I have only recently learned of this term although I’d consider myself somewhat of a shipper for quite a long time.

    I understand that there is so much to a show that goes beyond just the “will they or won’t they couple” but I don’t think it’s in bad taste to continue having that kind of emotional build up through season after season. It’s completely normal and the public seems driven towards ‘reality’ more and more these days.

    I loved the West Wing for it’s genuine approach to the oval office and the fact that these are characters with feelings and lives beyond the oval office. The show had heart, character, and a personality all it’s own. I’ve laughed and cried with those characters. But I was just as happy as the next shipper to find out that Donna and Josh finally recognized their feelings.

    I also enjoy the show Law and Order (SVU) for many of the same reasons. The cast has so much personality and feeling that allows us to identify a bit more with them. And yes, I’m routing for Elliot and Olivia to break down their individual barriers and admit their feelings. I’m sure that Dick Wolf himself doesn’t deny the chemistry between his two lead characters on SVU. But I’ve enjoyed all of the Law and Order shows and wouldn’t stop watching regardless of the Elliot/Olivia outcome.

    The X-Files was also exciting to watch. I loved the show and enjoyed the chemistry between Moulder and Scully even though the end result wasn’t exactly a ‘happily ever after’ arrangement. The nature of the show was obviously based on whether or not to believe, as understood from Fox Moulder’s drives. The element that seemed to me to be the most real was the relationship between the two characters. Regardless of what happened, their support for one another was what the audience could identify with. The science fiction was entertaining, but the emotion was the most identifiable social aspect.

    You can’t fault shippers for routing for their favorite couples. The circumstances in all of the shows I’ve mentioned are rather ‘high stress.’ These are characters with feelings, drives and dreams. Viewers are going to reach out for those socially gripping aspects. Some do so as an escape and others see a foundation of a relationship that they may feel connected with. A true fan won’t jump ship. But a true fan can still be a hopeless romantic. If that makes me a shipper, then so be it!

    Again, thanks for the very informative take on this topic.

    Regards,
    SLJ

  15. Diane Kristine says:

    Thanks SLJ. I guess I see a distinction between shows that promote the tension between a particular couple, like the X-Files, or Frasier, or Moonlighting, or The West Wing, and shows that juggle many possibilities, like House and some of the couplings in ER and Grey’s Anatomy, for example. In the first category, the show can only go so long before it becomes ridiculous to keep them apart. But it’s with the second category that I think fans’ shipping often leads to blindness about what’s actually onscreen. Look at House – some people insist that the House and Cameron ship is the “intended one” or, on the other hand, that the House and Cuddy one is the “intended,” or that if it weren’t for our narrow minded airwaves, the House and Wilson one is really the one true pairing. The show itself is toying with them all while proving time and again that House isn’t capable of that kind of intimacy. You wouldn’t know it to listen to the shippers, though. Despite apparently loving the show, they want both the show and the character to be something they’re not. I’m sick to death of it, more so now than when I wrote this.

  16. Anonymous says:

    One thing that annoys me about shippers is that they clog forums and turn every discussion about the show into a discussion of the couples of their choice. It doesn’t matter what the content of the show is, or the fact that maybe a particular show has limited character development- it’s still ‘all about the couple’ for the posters who are ship-obsessed. (It’s somewhat the same with people who over-analyzed individual characters – like Dr. House the character, for example) Their discection of minutae and insane extrapolating on all the ‘subtext’ or as I call it ‘stuff they make up that isn’t really there’ makes it impossible for fans of the show as a whole to discuss the goings on, including realationships. Try discussing an actual crime from Criminal Intent, for example, as you weed your way through page long babble about how ‘deep’ the Vincent D’Onofrio character is, or how Kathryn Erbe’s character is meant to be with him because she wore her hair a certain way in a five second shot…For the love of Dick Wolf would you stop! Ug SVU is even worse, but I don’t like that show…If it’s a crime show, I don’t want to be talking about how two detectives should get married and have a baby and get a summer house in the country- like you said, person who owns this blog, happy couples for the most part kill dramas. But also, in a lot of cases, happy couples have nothing to do with the show!

    Which is another annoying thing: that this extrapolation often leads people to totally turn the show into something it’s not. An above poster mentioned that Wilson and House are clearly not gay or bisexual, yet the shipping continues. Someone posted on YouTube that the producers intentionally put subtext in there to keep the fans of the combo happy. I don’t know if I believe that or not- because it’d be weird to show the audience one thing but have this secret thing going on- However, the mere fact that this is even a question just points out what annoys me: I want what I see on TV to be the topic of discussion- interperations of it – not totally other stuff like someone got a DVD with special deleted scenes or something. In the shipper world, say, the world of House, when the shippers take over, it’s sometimes like the show that actually airs on Fox doesn’t really exist. ‘He’s really a nice man who just needs a woman’s love…like Cameron…” NO, he really ISNT a nice man…that’s what the show is ABOUT! SO anyone who wants to even skim through online communities devoted to the show (whichever show it might be) has to weed through all this make-believe stuff and get pecked at by people if they dare to protest “Dude, that isn’t how the show says it is…” Someone said that actuall on youtube about a wilson-house post and the response was something to the effect of, gay people get bashed in real life, so just let them have this internet stuff. How the heck does being annoyed about people making fake stuff up about a TV show you like get into the gay rights debate- talk about bringing up serious stuff in a fluff discussion. But how can you have a good chat about a show where it’s not even about the show, it’s about how in episode 2.5 Cuddy was wearing blue which is a signal for her love of Chase…or whatever.

    And here’s another thing, LOL, as a writer myself, I totally get riffing off other people’s shows and coming up with your own stuff based on it- it’s good practice, sometimes, and aspiring tv writers have to write samples like this anyhow. But I totally don’t get why people put their “riffs” on the internet for other people to see,and I totally don’t like when people who write this ‘fan fic shipper’ stuff obsessively are just as obsessive about being on forums and blogs, etc. It’s so annoying, and sometimes the people come off as a little scary. And it seems 99% of the time, it’s just some person who has a crush on Hugh Laurie or whomever. Hey, I could think Robert Sean Leonard is cute, but I don’t need to write about him for twenty pages on a message board, camoflaging it as some serious discection of subtext….I am a tv and writer nerd combo platter, but I seriously want to yell at these people “get a life!”

    Sometimes with House, I just wanna talk about how he said something funny, or solved a cool case, or even how he seems to maybe like Cuddy or whatever— I don’t want to take the good ship shipper all the way out to sea.

    Bottom line: every tv forum should have a shipper free area!

  17. Diane Kristine says:

    All I can say is … amen!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Amen!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Shippers reject the idea of going along for the ride down roads not yet imagined, and long instead for the tired boy-meets-girl scenario to be fulfilled, despite the fact that once it is, we’ll inevitably get bored and stop watching.

    First off, it’s a bit silly to complain about shippers not going new paths, then ignore the House/Wilson ship in this post for the most part.

    I agree, once a ship is settled on, it can make a make a show more boring. Not always, but a lot of times. That’s why so many shippers of all stripes don’t want their ship to be fulfilled until near the end of the series.

    I still don’t want to see that pairing, unless it’s as an end game after the show’s 10 year run.

    Hugh Laurie has said in interviews that the character House is on a metaphorical ledge, that eventually he has to jump or get down. I agree, and don’t think this show would be quality TV if it went more than a couple more seasons.

    All in all, you have some points, but are making sweeping generalizations about your fellow House fans. What harm is shipping to you? It’s just a hobby. Rather than read the everyday general squee as fandom stances, I’d focus more on the meta of the different ships. That’s where you’ll find thought-out arguments on all sides.

  20. Diane says:

    Who’s stopping you from focusing on the “meta” of ships? It seems to me there’s a lot of that out there. I simply don’t care in the slightest about that – that’s where this post comes in. Why do you think I should care?

    What I’m objecting to, if you read the first few paragraphs, is the shippers who are trying to make everything and everyone fit their ship – and that’s where the “harm” comes to me, in discussions about my “hidden agenda.” You want to ship House/Wilson? Great! Just don’t tell me there’s hidden code in my reviews that’s either for or against your ship.

    Yes, generalizations are evil, but couching everything in vague language is boring.

    I don’t give the House/Wilson ship the same weight as the House/Cameron/Cuddy triangle because I don’t see it. I see the characters (and by extension the writers) poking fun at the idea that men can’t be friends without some ribbing about their sexuality. You see it? Great! Why on earth do you care if I do or not?

    That’s what I’m objecting to – why don’t you enjoy the show in your way, and let me enjoy it mine. I don’t go on shipping sites and blogs and tell people why they shouldn’t be shippers. Yet every week, people come to my site and tell me that I am one or should be one. I’m now fed up with the entire idea of shipping.

  21. JD says:

    I’m going to feel really out of place with this comment because a) I stumbled into this blog b) I’m a proud “shipper” and c) I haven’t watched House since the first season. Now that THAT’S out of the way, I gotta say I really enjoyed reading this article/blog entry.

    Yeah, generalizations aren’t great but they do stem from the truth. I would like to think that I’m an exception to the rule…. to a certain extent. Hell, who knows maybe I’m the worst of the worst!!!

    I do think that every fan forum should have a separate thread for shippers. That way people can squee and do whatever other ridiculous things they do (I do) in the privacy of their own thread.

    I do worry about my own “ship” though (Jim and Pam on The Office) because they have been doing the will-they wont-they build up for 3 seasons. After Jim asked her out in the season finale I was really happy yet I worried about the fate of not only the couple but of the show. I would like to think that The Office is going to do something groundbreaking and not loose any viewers if they decide to keep Jim and Pam together. Since it’s a comedy though it rarely ever delves into dramatic situations so maybe it’s a completely different situation. I’m rambling on so I’ll stop.

    Great blog. I’m glad I ended up here.

  22. Diane Kristine says:

    Thanks JD, even non-House fans welcome 🙂 I love The Office too, and am curious to see what they do with Jim and Pam. So much else is going on in that show, maybe they can make it work without diffusing the tension … maybe Ryan and Kelly will be the next Jim/Pam 😉

  23. Lena says:

    Apologies for deleting and reposting this comment–I keep coming up with more things to add…

    Surprised at the intensity of the shipping wars on some boards, I too started pondering on the causes and consequences of this affliction. In my mind, there are two groups of shippers–the “literal” and the “abstract”.

    The literal, quite precisely described in your essay, subscribe to the cliche Hollywood idea of pursuing every sexually charged encounter to its natural conclusion. Behind-the-scenes motive here is to match the House story to the known plotlines–Beauty and the Beast for Hamerons, Beatrice and Benedick or Harry and Sally for Huddys and the (surprise!) Holmes and Watson for the Wilsons. Yet, House is neither of these stories alone, it is all of them and, hopefully, many others yet to come. I wholeheartedly agree that whether writing one story line or hungrily clinging to a few hints of affection and extrapolating them to the whole series is a waste of a wonderful show for both the writers and the viewers.

    There is, however, a slightly aspect of shipping. I call it the “abstract” or “character” shipping. As viewers, most of us have a crush on you-know-who. Gorgeous blue eyes notwithstanding, House’s sex appeal is in his charisma. We want to know what makes him tick, the why’s behind his what’s. And what is a love interest if not a mould of the character? Is House is a Cuddy, a Wilson or a Cameron-kind of guy? The depth and the passion of armada battles stems from the viewers’ personal connection to their view of “kind of guy” House is deep inside. What if he’s not the person they imagined?

    From this perspective, the potential created by flirtation and occasional sparks of passion works much better than the “instant gratification-then void” of the happily-ever-after. Each of the supporting characters (especially from the old crew) shows us a different House that we enjoy watching. I love that the House/Wilson and House/Cuddy reflections have grown and gained depth in the recent seasons. Much to my dismay, however, the aspect of House’s character illuminated by Cameron disappeared, as her character was reduced to a meaningless placeholder.

    If anything, I’m an “abstract” House/Cameron shipper of the first/second season. I would hate to see him in a relationship with anyone, but I’m drawn to the contrast between outward defensive ruthlessness and hidden romanticism that Cameron briefly jerks to the surface. I thought her defiant girlishness mixed with stoicism and bravery played well into the emotional world of House who never really grew up. Their connection was most fairy-tale like, and, ironically, most dangerously open. It was with her that he was at a loss for words and to her he came for answers about his own nature (“You like me. Why?”). Even the fact that Cameron was the one to see what was wrong with House (and, hence, able to fix it) in Three Stories was very symbolic in my wishful-thinking shipper’s mind. With constant matches of witty banter and cynical Housisms with every other close character, there seemed to be little risk that brief House/Cameron sparks would ruin the show.

    Of course, that particular set-up was last seen in “Heavy” and the “Role Model” of the first season, echoed in a few charged looks in the third and evaporated by the fourth. Little is left from Cameron, who,in Role Model, perceived and admired the moral compass that chose to sacrifice people close to him, rather than to compromise his integrity–“You do it because it’s right”(that is, if you don’t interpret that episode as House simply choosing to piss Vogler off). In just a few episodes, the acute truth detector and inner strength disappeared forever, as she sat across the table staring blankly after House’s self-defensive accusation, concluding that House was “too screwed up to love anyone”. Small glimpse of House/Cameron resurfaced in Euphoria, when, once again, she was open, defiant and ready to risk her life, whether for the sake of a colleague or to solve the mystery.

    As House pointed out, “something always changes” and if Cameron as she is now was gone from the show, I wouldn’t miss her. But I do long for moments of House as he was with old Cameron. Season 4’s Frozen was a bittersweet reminder.

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