The relationship between Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) and Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) on House was one fraught with sexual tension. House often directed snide comments his boss’ way and regularly disobeyed her orders while Cuddy got a kind of sick pleasure in constantly forcing the socially averse doctor to treat patients in the hospital’s clinic. Their back and forth made for good television but we couldn’t help but wonder: was there something to be learned from their combative employer/employee relationship? In other words, what can House’s interactions with Cuddy teach us about how to decisively handle our own controlling, irritating, megalomaniac of a boss?
The answer: yes, but be careful. Using these cutting clapbacks comes with some risk.
Dr. Lisa Cuddy: I want you to do your job.
Dr. Gregory House: As philosopher Jagger once said: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
We should’ve known after their first interaction during the series pilot that House had no intention of following Cuddy’s orders. Try as she might to get him to actually care about patients, House was more interested in solving problems, not saving people. And he damn sure didn’t care about the endless empty threats Cuddy threw his way.
House was vital to the hospital, which is why Cuddy put up with some much bullsh*t from the guy, so if you’re not some pathological enigma solving genius, you might want to turn down the snark a bit. On the other hand, if your boss is as much of a pushover as Cuddy was, why not test your limits?
Dr. Lisa Cuddy: House, I need you to come to that dinner for two hours, keep your mouth shut, and behave like an adult.
Dr. Gregory House: I have to act like a decent human being, and you know what a strain that puts on me.
Even when Cuddy and House began dating, the good doctor held onto his rebellious streak. When Cuddy ordered House to attend a dinner with her mom, he instead tried to opt for a night on the couch, in his underwear, drinking Scotch, and watching The Real Housewives.
Assuming you aren’t shacking up with your superior, using the same comeback the next time you’re directed to attend a company function or just play nice with some irritating co-workers might not go over as smoothly but at least you’ll have communicated your complete lack of interest in any future social gatherings.
Dr. Lisa Cuddy: Do you mind if I come in?
Dr. Gregory House: Not at all, do you mind if I leave?
There’s nothing worse than a micro-managing boss, especially one who likes to snoop in on your personal life. Sure Cuddy and House had a romantic connection which explains why she was always checking up on him, making sure he hadn’t overdosed on Vicodin and alcohol, but if a person can’t enjoy getting blackout drunk in the privacy of their own home without their boss crashing the party, what kind of world are we living in?
Maybe your employer isn’t checking in on you after hours, but if they’re the kind of controlling a**hole that likes to barge into your office every 15 minutes to “chat,” feel free to throw this comeback their way.
Dr. Gregory House: Doesn’t sound like me.
This usually serves as House’s catchall response whenever Cuddy questions his ethics as a doctor. Whether he was fostering a paternity bet on the father of a sick patient or using malaria as a diagnostic tool, House always answered Cuddy’s rhetorical questions the same way – by acting as obtuse as possible.
Of all of the clapbacks on this list, this is one that you can probably get away with while still keeping your job. The next time your boss questions your methods or seems shocked by something you’ve done in the office, just fake a bout of temporary amnesia and walk away.
Dr. Lisa Cuddy: You are not listening to me, are you?
Dr. Gregory House: Try it sometime — you’ll see why.
House’s acerbic wit was his defining quality and it often showed up in his exchanges with his boss, even when said boss was trying to do him a favor. In the season five premiere, Cuddy tries to mediate between House and Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) after the two have a falling out. Of course, singing kumbaya over a fire (or over a patient going into cardiac arrest) and sharing feelings isn’t really House’s style so he takes her meddling about as well as can be expected.
If you’ve got a boss who constantly wants affirmation that you’re paying attention to their monotonous drabbles, maybe this mocking reply is something worth having in your arsenal.
Dr. Lisa Cuddy: Can we talk about this later?
Dr. Gregory House: Of course… Is now later?
House and Cuddy’s personal and professional relationship often blurred the line, especially in times of crisis, like when the doctors tried to save a woman trapped under debris after a building collapse. While Cuddy wanted to focus on their patient, House demanded to talk about a gift he had recently given her (and about her short-lived engagement to another man).
We’ve all had important issues to discuss with our employers that seem to be easily shoved aside because said employer is “busy,” or “has a meeting,” or “fill in erroneous excuse here.” Why not just completely take them off guard and respond with this? The worst they can do is say no, right?