With the amount of TV I watch, it shouldn't come as such a surprise that I get attached. I mean, if you saw the same group of people once a week for years, you'd consider them all friends, wouldn't you? Even if you liked some people more than others? So shouldn't that theory also be applicable to the people you see on TV regularly? Aren't they kinda, sorta, maybe "friends" too? Even if you don't, technically, "know" them and they aren't "real" people? (Oh gawd, am I really this loser-ish that I consider TV characters to be friends? Please tell me it's not just me...). So it's like a punch to the gut when one of those "friends" dies...unexpectedly.
This week on House, Lawrence Kutner (Kal Penn) took his own life.
I've been watching House since it's inception and I'm a huge fan. I wasn't very happy when Chase, Cameron and Foreman left, and House had to hire new assistants, but I eventually warmed up to them. It was exciting watching the hiring process - it was kind of like watching The Apprentice, but with a script. And the eventual team - Kutner, Peter Taub, Remy "Thirteen" Hadley, and Foreman were all interesting choices.
Kutner (who I've never been able to stop calling Kumar) was my favourite. Funny, nice, kind of nerdy and brilliantly sharp, he seemed to be the best choice to succeed House, even with Foreman still there. It came as an absolute shock when he shot himself in the head. I didn't think it was really happening, When I realized it wasn't a dream sequence, I thought for sure that someone would be able to save him. There were too late. He was well and truly dead and no one saw it coming.
Everyone dealt with the death differently. Thirteen had the most instantly recognizable reaction of grief and shock. Foreman, unfortunately for Thirteen, decided he had to grieve on his own. Lisa Cuddy organized grief conseling and time off for the team, eventhough she knew it was a fruitless task. Taub, probably Kutners best friend on the show, acted like it didn't matter to him because Kutner made a selfish choice, but he was really just suppressing a very deep-seated grief.
House, predictably, became obsessed with the Why of the matter: Why did he kill himself? Why did none of his friends see it coming? Why did his adoptive parents make him suppress his nationality? And finally came to the conclusion that since he (House) did not see it coming and he misses nothing, that Kutner must have been murdered.
My reaction was probably most similar to that of House. Rather than deal with the shock of a favourite character committing suicide, and the fact that the show will go forward without him, I wanted - needed - to know why they wrote him off. Was Penn fired? Did he want to leave the show? Did he piss off a writer? De he get a better gig? What show could possibly better than House right now?? It's doing great in the ratings. Is he bored of the show? Did he not get along with Hugh Laurie? Did the execs take a survey and find that he was not resonating with the public? I need to know!
It turns out that that Kal Penn asked to be written off the show, so that he could go work for Obama in the White House. It's something he's been wanting to do for a while, and when the opportunity came, it was not one he could pass up. That was one reason for leaving that did not cross my mind. And it kind of makes me like Penn even more. You can read the interview here. It doesn't make me any less sad, though.
Goodbye, friend Kumar, you will be greatly missed.
Picture credit: Fanpop.com