Lying and Cheating In The “House” – Swinging on TV’s House

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House recently featured a patient with an open marriage.  As they've done before with the porn star couple, the team quickly divided into for and against.  But before this, as the opening titles ran, with the amazing Teardrop by Massive Attack, Marilyn and I discussed who we thought would be for and against this relationship.   Of course bisexual and kinky 13/Remy would be for it, Chase would probably have issue because of his failed marriage, Foreman would just be against it because he seems to be a fairly traditional fellow, and House?  Well, House probably wouldn't come down on either side of the argument unless it suits his purposes.

But we forgot about Taub.  And I'm not sure why, Taub is one of our favorite characters.  His story lines have been consistently interesting as the rest of the team has faded into the background.  Taub has cheated on his wife a few times, and initially comes down STRONGLY against the open marriage, presumably because his habit is the lying one instead, so it's easier to be against the one that tells the truth.

We were wrong about the others…mostly.   Well, 13 was fine with it.  Foreman didn't really have much of an opinion (or much to do as a character as of late if I can allow this article to slide into TV review territory).  Chase seemed against it, but admitted he wasn't one to talk as the couple stayed together while his marriage to Cameron fell apart rather quickly (especially after Chase killed James Earl Jones…but that's another story).  House was difficult to nail down.  He went back and forth.

But then there was Taub, initially so much against it in a “what gives them the right?” sort of way.  Until he had a chance to really talk to Sarah Wayne Callies' open character, who gave the “party line” on open relationships.  “Most people do this, we're just honest about it.”  So Taub, who's been having trouble resisting a pretty nurse, at dinner with his wife, stumbles into a discussion about open marriage.  His wife initially flips out, but later gives him a Thursday nite pass.  With caveats she doesn't want to know anything about the girl, he has to be home at midnight, etc.

So, Taub, shocked, comes into work the next day (Thursday, of course) wearing cologne, and for the best few scenes of the episode the team reacts to this, discussing the hows and whys of open marriage.  Side note here, we were rather impressed at the detail they went into when discussing these pros and cons.  This IS mainstream television after all.  We were feeling rather good about the portrayal on House (even though their version of open marriage is very different from our swinging, but, hey, any port in the storm, right?), and then the third act twist happened.

Having NOTHING to do with the diagnosis, and serving really only to prove House's “Everybody lies” mantra.  The Mr. hasn't been sleeping with other people, the Mrs. has.  He's allowing this, and letting her think he is, because he knows she needs this to be happy and is willing to give it to her.   He's ALSO lost their life savings, though, not on gambling or anything, but an investment that went back.  This draws a huge rift because it breaks the cardinal rule of open marriages.

We can do this because we're honest.  And it can't be just the sex honesty, we have to be ACTUALLY honest.  I'm not saying we can't occasionally say “no, you look great” when our partner doesn't…I'm talking about capital LIES.  Communication and capital LIES don't go together.  In the end, 13 tells our Mrs that her husband hasn't been with anyone else, and the Mrs thinks her marriage is a sham.  13 tells her that, no, it's a marriage being held together by someone who wants nothing more than his partner to be happy…so the LIE is justified because it's for the greater good of the marriage.

Then Taub gets a call from his wife.  She's crying in the parking lot.  She can't do it.  His Thursday pass is cancelled.  Taub, visibly disappointed tells his wife that she's the only one he needs.  They hug and aww and they've learned and grown, open marriage isn't for everybody.  That's the point of the episode, right?  That it's a thing, just not OUR thing…

Uh-uh.  No.

See, ‘cuz in the end, Taub sees that nurse at her car, struggling to put something in the trunk, helps her, then makes out with her.  And through the laws of parallel storytelling, this means that we, the audience, are supposed to be feeling that sometimes it's okay to lie for the greater good of the marriage.  And we guess this is what Taub thinks he's doing.  Now, in the long run, this is likely not going to end well for the guy, and is likely setting up a rest of the season plot point for him, but this single episode, a fairly positive portrayal of open marriage on a quite highly rated show, seems to be coming down on the side of lying and cheating.

Disconcerting.

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About Author

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About Cooper Cooper S. Beckett is the co-founder and host of Life on the Swingset: The Podcast since 2010, author of swinging & polyamory novels A Life Less Monogamous and Approaching The Swingularity, and memoir My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory. He teaches and speaks on swinging, polyamory, pegging, play parties, and coloring outside the boundaries of your sexuality. He is a graphic & web designer, photographer, and voice over artist, has been a guest expert on Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast, & is the announcer of Tristan Taormino’s radio show Sex Out Loud. He is currently working on two instructional non-fiction books, one about beginning non-monogamy, and another about pegging.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Society in America does not want anyone to be open about their sex. Whether we are swingers or not. That is for the bedroom. So, it is more okay for people to lie and sneak around than it is to have an open and honest marriage.
    People do what we do every day, but we are considered "dirty" because we are open about it.
    Don't we just love the situation?

  2. Avatar

    So Taub does what any guy would do in that situation and soothes his wife, reassuring her that she is the only one he wants. He says what he feels he MUST say as her friend, husband and lover. But it is NOT what he was feeling – he is clearly conflicted, and like anyone is vacillating between what he wants, and what he feels is best for his marriage and his wife.

    Many of us have been there. This is a terrible place to be, and there are no easy answers.

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