HOUSE OF CARDS, is meant for the likes of me in one respect: I have recently streamed the entirety of shows like DOWNTON ABBEY, BREAKING BAD, SONS OF ANARCHY, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, GAME OF THRONES and the old and the new versions of UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS.
I enjoy watching serialized shows that leave me wanting more, but because I waited I don’t have to wait.
Tensions built up over previous hours are instantly gratified with another hour, and so on… until all the hours are over and there is a profound sense of satisfaction and loss that there is no more.
So I’m a big fan of Netflix and genuinely want this kind of 13 episode drop of HOUSE OF CARDS to be a success, so we’ll get more of it in the future.
The problem with HOUSE OF CARDS though, is that it there is nothing that I really needed to have gratified after the first few episodes. There were no interesting characters I cared about, there was no clever plot I needed resolved, and there were no satisfying insights of the time and place.
Just a bunch of unlikely stuff happening to a bunch of unlikely people who I didn’t give a shit about.
If you like acting and actors Kevin Spacey (Frank Underwood) and Robin Wright (Claire Underwood) are as good as anybody, but their characters are two-dimensional psycho power-crazed nut-jobs who stick together like a pair of serial killers, and manipulate anyone who gets in the way of their grand plan.
For Congressman Frank Underwood it’s revenge for being passed over for Secretary of State in a new president’s cabinet, and a reacceleration of his career trajectory to where he believe it belongs. For Claire it’s the advancement of the clean water non-profit organization she heads. The two are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. If they can help themselves by helping each other, great, if not, screw them too.
In one scene, Claire sadistically gives her former bodyguard, in hospice for cancer, a hand job under the sheets, after he professes his unrequited love for her. Asking, “Is this what you wanted?” While explaining why she chose her husband as her life partner over the likes of the man dying in the bed in front of her.
And she didn’t even finish him off!
There’s no tragedy in Claire or Frank just self-absorbed assholery; and therefore, nothing to root for. No humanity to redeem.
Not even among the
plot devices secondary characters. Everyone around Frank and Claire just lets themselves be manipulated and abused and does nothing about it. They all just lie there and get wanked around.
And that’s it. The show might be good if others fought or manipulated back. If there was true political intrigue. If HOUSE OF CARDS took a cue from GAME OF THRONES and Frank and Claire’s
opposition pawns were at least somewhat formidable. But they aren’t. For the most part, they just take it.
After the first few episodes I realized that HOC lacked tension. That I really didn’t care if I found out what happened next. That the only reason I was watching the next episode was not that I had to see what happened next and I was relieved that the next one was already there waiting to be seen.
I was watching it just because it was all there and I had to finish it, like a new version of World of Warcraft.
In my quest to become a level 13 lawful evil streamer, I actually lost respect for myself. I’ll watch anything. I have no standards. Maybe I should start drinking again….
Don’t end up like me (hic!). For a truly satisfying experience, I recommend the British version. In fact, you can watch the whole thing on Netflix.