House of Cards is a brilliant drama "TV show" full of political skullduggery and machinations that is up there with the best of what is going on now, but that's only one of the reasons it's so important.
I had seen the preview for it. It seemed intriguing. Kevin Spacey as southern drawling Majority Whip à la LBJ or Tom DeLay, giving thought-filled asides to the camera as we see him slighted by a newly inaugurated president for the secretary of state position he was promised. And the ensuing quest for the kind of political revenge, a dish best served cold. Yes, the young lady reporter (Kate Mara) that becomes Spacey's ally in the press makes for great tension and their symbiotic usage of each other is a very interesting storyline. It's a hell of a hook.
Most intriguing to me was it being a Netflix original series, much like the offbeat and arthouse-feeling Lilyhammer. Lilyhammer, which featured Steven Van Zandt as a gangster type who does witness relocation to Norway, was a fun romp and an enjoyable viewing it certainly didn't pack the lumber that House of Cards has. House of Cards, a loose adaption of an 1990 BBC series and a novel, executive produced and directed (for the first two episodes) by David Fincher. House of Cards walks onto the streaming television landscape with a certain mandate that cannot be denied.
This is a game changer that I've been waiting for. The first show of its kind that acknowledges that people are going to watch "television" however they damn well please. That includes laptops, iPads and so forth, as well as in MASSIVE binges. The ultimate compliment to a compelling serial, the viewer simply CANNOT wait to see what happens next. With House of Cards, they do not have to.
It's a savvy move for Netflix. I've never seen a single episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, nor do I care to. I don't have any need for Dancing With the Stars. But I am an absolute sucker for a great show that has an interesting story and doesn't treat it's audience like a pack of idiots. Right on, Netflix. Let's have more of this.
But back to the show: It would be easy to just write an article about Kevin Spacey's wonderful Frank Underwood character, as I imagine many will. But it truly is an ensemble cast; Corey Stoll's Peter Russo character is such a wonderful representation of a trope -- the coke-sniffing, whore-mongering politician who is one scandal away from being completely destroyed. The Congresscritter that wants to do right, but can't quite figure out what to do with his power. This is Battlestar Galactica to the West Wing's Star Trek, this world is dirty and breaks idealists in compromises, back room deals and good old fashioned knives in backs.
In my life I am absolutely an idealist; it shows through in most of my worldview and certainly through the art that I try to present to the world. Yet this show that I have enjoyed so much, this show that fascinates me. It possesses not a shred of idealism. Not any of the congresspeople, not the president, not the press. Nobody. It's largely lizard-brained selfishness with occasional forays into just enough broken humanity to keep you interested in the characters. It's Breaking Bad for the Politico set, and that's a wonderful thing.
House of Cards is about accumulation of power, and the will to do something with it. The catchphrase is, "Bad, but for a greater good." But is that really the case? Do the ends justify the means? And exactly what ends are we talking about? Without getting into spoiler territory let's just call Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood character more than a little bit motivated. His relationship with his nonprofit-running wife Robin Wright is absolutely fascinating. They are a power couple in the truest fashion, sharing each others skeletons and triumphs. It's a type of marriage that you don't see much on TV shows because it challenges the entire idea of what a marriage can be.
Anyway, I could go on but you should really just watch it.
I'm hooked, and I can't wait until there is more. Give it a try and you might be on board, too.
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