Having watched tons of House episodes over the past few months (I think I'm nearly caught up with all the episodes prior to the current season), last night's episode had a sort of inevitability about it. The question of whether there will be a romantic relationship between House and Cuddy is one of those questions it seems every long-running show deals with eventually. Think Sam and Diane, Sam and Rebecca, Monica and Chandler, everyone and everyone else on ER, and the various iterations of coupling on Buffy just to name a few.
The common wisdom suggests that such a coupling inevitably is the immediate antecedent to a severe drop in program quality. It's no so much that the coupling creates the drop in quality, but rather represents the moment when the folks in the writers' room have run out of ideas.
Though not always inaccurate, such a view is certainly awfully simplistic. Single individuals, on the whole, tend to get involved in long-term romantic relationships as they get older. Television shows, which to some degree reflect reality (often in a fun house mirror), need to account for these relationships and don't always wish to bring on new characters as a significant other.
Think about it, a show already has characters that the audience is familiar with and enjoys — why go mucking about with a great cast dynamic by bringing on someone new who solely represents a “love interest?” That is all the more true when the goal of the love interest is to establish a long-term relationship (marriage?) for a series regular. The character is going to appear over and over and over again; it shifts a workplace drama/comedy into something completely different. It's not always a good choice.
So, what better way to establish a long-term relationship for two characters than by having them fall in love with one another? You're able to keep the show centered as it always has been, don't risk messing with good cast chemistry, and don't take the risk of bringing on a new character which the audience may dislike.
House has, as you know, brought on several new cast members, cast members that they've had to sell to the audience. They have, in my opinion, done a fantastic job of getting us to like and understand House's newbie team. So, it makes perfect sense that after taking such a risk they wouldn't want to do so quite as quickly again, and consequently have to look elsewhere for a love interest for the show's lead curmudgeon.
Plus, even though House has always referred to Cuddy in a derogatory manner, there always has seemed to be something more underlying House's remarks to, and about, her. So, why not explore that in depth for a few episodes.
Make no mistake, I'm not taking a stance on the relationship. I'm neither stating that the relationship should, or will, becoming a long-term one. I do however think that's it's something worth exploring and considering, that it does not represent the inevitable downfall of a great drama.