MASH may have occasionally teased out a romance between Hawkeye and Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, but that would have been a big mistake. MASH is one of the biggest TV shows of its era and broke a few rules along the way. The death of Henry Blake on MASH was a major event, as it was almost unheard of for a network sitcom to kill such an important recurring character. MASH became more of a dramedy as it evolved too, and rejected the notion its characters couldn’t evolve out of static arcs, like other comedy shows of the time.
Case in point would be Major Houlihan (Loretta Swit), who started MASH as something of a one-dimensional antagonist but became one of its most interesting characters in later seasons. Like the Robert Altman MASH movie before it, early seasons depicted Margaret as a straight-laced figure who kept herself at a distance from the rest of the 4077th. One of Swit’s favorite MASH episodes was “The Nurses,” which really showed for the first time there was a real person beneath Houlihan’s strict persona. She often sparred with Alan Alda’s Hawkeye, though there were traces of romantic tension between them also.
MASH Teased A Romance Between Hawkeye & Margaret
Their personal and professional relationship may have been frosty when MASH began, but over the course of its 11-season run, Hawkeye and Margaret became friends. While there was clearly an attraction between the pair, a romance was never really on the cards. The only time MASH really approached the idea was in the season 6 two-parter “Comrades In Arms,” where they end up sharing a kiss after surviving a night of intense enemy shelling. Margaret thinks their time together will lead to a new romance but Hawkeye is reluctant, and they soon end up arguing before deciding to stay friends.
MASH’s finale – which became the most-watched TV episode of all time – also Hawkeye and Houlihan’s final scene saw them share a passionate kiss. This extended kiss is both a comic moment and one where the two characters vent all the pent-up emotion and passion they felt throughout their three years together in the war. Since they had such conflicting personalities, it’s doubtful a romance would have worked under the best circumstances, but MASH was wise not to force one for the sake of ratings.
MASH’s Finale Kiss Cost A Half A Million
The kiss between Houlihan and Hawkeye is one of the most famous moments from the finale – and one that Alda later dubbed the “costliest” kiss in history. MASH’s finale was a true event in 1983 and Time Magazine (via Yahoo!) cited the cost of running a 30-second TV commercial during its airing at around $450,000. The Hawkeye/Margaret kiss lasts around 35 seconds, placing the price of it at around half a million, which is yet another impressive record the finale broke.