Launched by David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl), House of Cards is a political drama that is not only filled with A-list cast but also has a glamorous sheen of prestige.
Netflix outbid leading cable channels like AMC and HBO to land this show, believing it was the ideal beginning in its effort to make its own brand of Emmy-worthy television. Netflix’s House of Cards is the remake of 1990 BBC mini-series of the same name. It is one of the best political dramas since The West Wing.
The main character of the show Francis J. “Frank” Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) is the U.S. Senate Majority Whip who uses every inch of his clout and trafficking in political secrets to dethrone his enemies and leverage his way to the top. His alliance with his wife Claire Hale Underwood (played by Robin Wright) is probably one of the best, and also the worst, romances on TV. The show remarkably showcases just how eager these two characters are to beat their opponents and get what they want.
As the old saying goes: Power corrupts. And the more power you have, the more corrupt you are. Frank has a weakness for power. He breathes it. For 20 years, he has walked the halls of power in House (Congress), climbing the ranks to become a majority whip. But it’s not enough for him and throughout the three seasons of the show, we see the laws he’ll break, the schemes he’ll hatch, and the lies he’ll tell to get the power he believes he deserves.
There are always loose ends. Politicians to be derailed or groomed. Reporters to squelch. People to eliminate. Clearly, Frank isn’t done yet, as there’s too much work to be done, too many secrets to bury, and too much dirt to dig into. And as the story progresses, fans wonder if the effort might become too much even for his dark, cold heart.
The political setting of this show is clearly underhanded, problematic, often illegal, and sometimes even murderous. Sex is both distraction and weapon for these clever politicians as they work very hard to keep their corrupt interludes away from the press. Sex scenes can be very graphic, sometimes as skin-centric and explicit as anything you might see on Game of Thrones. Drugs are also there. And violence is just another “tool.”
Due to the unveiling of its each successive season on Netflix at once, House of Cards is ideal for binge-watching. The show is at its best when exploring the built-up political performance, uneasy balance of studied, personal dogmas, fears, obsessions, and gripes. If this Netflix-produced series was a feature film, it’d fit comfortably under a scarlet R rating. Netflix delivers an addictive political drama with movie-quality storytelling.