House of cards, seasons 1 & 2 (Netflix, 2013-2014).
How do I even begin to explain House of cards? I like to describe it to my friends who haven’t seen it as “Littlefinger goes to Washington”, and TVtropes defined it as “Richard III meets The West Wing”. Both work.
Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) likes power. A lot. He secures Garret Walker as the President to net himself the position of Secretary of State but someone else gets promoted instead and he is asked to stay the House majority whip. He gets really pissed at this and decides that the first thing to do is screw whoever got to be Secretary of State instead of him, and since he likes it, he proceeds to step on everyone that crosses his path in order to amass more and more power. He’s got the help of his wife Claire (Robin Wright), who runs an NGO and knows a lot of wealthy people who like to donate to charity in their free time in an attempt to clean their conscience.
***Very general and non-specific SPOILERS***
The thing goes as follows: you have something that the Underwoods want. The Underwoods find out about something they have that you want and offer it to you making it look like they are so generous that they want you to have it, and the favor they are exchanging is just a trifle. At this point you either accept because you actually believed the charade or because you’re just as rotten as they are and that’s how you roll. If you refuse and point out that the Underwoods are trying to buy you, they will pretend to be genuinely offended by such ludicrous idea and will insist that it’s only a gift of good will. At this point you can accept or insist that you don’t want to give them what they want, which will make them furious and they will promise to destroy your life and everything you ever enjoyed, and they mean it. That’s basically how the plot advances. ***REAL SPOILERS*** It made me feel seething hate for the Underwoods and basically any character that ends up amounting to anything by the end because they’re all a bunch of sewer rats. Every character that’s good or at least not that evil that tries to stand up to the Underwoods or just happened to walk by ends up destroyed or dead. Well, in the case of Lucas he was too stupid to win at all. Seriously, what he tries to do sounds so much like the plot of Horrible Bosses. But here’s the thing, even though I absolutely loved the show it never leaves the above path. You never actually fear for Frank, he makes very few minor mistakes and everything goes according to plan always. I expect these two seasons to be the rise and the rest to be the fall, or at least to change in some way. It’s fun to see the Underwoods fuck with everyone, but it gets repetitive.***End SPOILERS***
I don’t recommend this if you have a short attention span or you don’t like shows where they just speak and don’t shoot stuff because it’s really blah blah blah all the time. Not a good idea if you’re drunk or sleepy. Frank Underwood’s asides are extra helpful to follow the plot, and the moments when he just stares at the camera and gives us a meaningful look are gold. Kevin Spacey is magnificent in this and I personally like his slight Southern accent so much. Robin Wright is great too and everyone in general does a great job. The pace is great, it’s quite fast from the beginning but it keeps adding up characters and situations until chaos ensues.
The relationship between Frank and Claire also catches the eye, and for a reason. They work more like a corporation than a marriage, but there’s no doubt they love each other at the same time. It’s delicious to see how they get into dirty stuff, morally, sexually and politically and they still have the nerve to put a show to the media that they are prudish saints who just have a vocation to serve society. Yes, the politics in this. If you thought Game of Thrones had heavy politics in it, wait and see. Frank Underwood will cling to absolutely anything to win, and lying and backstabbing are only on the shortlist. Shifting the blame and going to comfort the victims of situations he started for his own personal profit in order to make his political enemies look bad are among the most appalling.
***MAJOR SPOILERS*** The death of Zoe Barnes was the best thing I’ve seen on TV for a very long time. Totally unexpected, out of nowhere, and a real commitment from the writers. For a moment I thought it was only in Franks thoughts, but it was real and I tip my hat to the writers for that.***END SPOILERS***
In summary, this show is not for you if you don’t like paying a lot of attention and struggling to follow the plot, but if you’re in for some (political) action, this is a must-watch for you.