Cesspool on the Potomac

I couldn't resist! It took me a while to get through the thirteen episodes of House of Cards that Netflix released simultaneously, for a couple of reasons. First, it's a very complex, layered show, and I generally like to have some time between episodes to digest and reflect on the overall arc. Also, watching any episodes without my friend Kyle coming over for some food and libations to go along with the show was strictly verboten. Given those restrictions, it actually went pretty quickly, because as soon as we'd finish an episode, we were both anxious to see what would come next.

I haven't seen anything of the British version, but the American show is about Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), the majority whip of the House of Representatives. When he is passed over for Secretary of State by the new president, he vows to claw himself to power by any means necessary, and hey, if that should involve revenge against the people who have spurned him, so much the better. His wife Claire (Robin Wright) runs the Clean Water Initiative, a noble charity, but one that often gets wrapped up in the couple's political ambitions. Rounding out the main cast is a young, ambitious reporter (Kate Mara), who starts out the season willingly trading information with (and sleeping with) Underwood to get ahead, but who is coming to realize the depths to which he'll sink to get ahead.

Kyle opined that it's a very Shakespearean style of show, and I have to agree. Not only because of the machinations surrounding the careers, egos, and motivations of all of the players involved, but in the asides. Underwood often breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to us as the audience, and though that annoyed me a little at first, I got used to it fairly quickly. We weren't the only ones to be engrossed; while we were ensconced in the middle of the season, House of Cards was busy making history by landing nine Emmy nominations, including one for Best Drama of the year. It's the first direct-to-internet show to ever be considered (Arrested Development has also gotten a few nominations, but has also actually aired on television). I was a little suspicious of how good a direct-to-Netflix show was going to be, but was happy to put those fears to rest. This show was extremely well-made, and a lot of fun to watch; I'm already looking forward to seeing what evil schemes are hatched next season.

House of Cards - Season 1: B+


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