House of cards is a politically based drama that is an Netflix original series. The show is currently going onto its fourth season which debuts in march. Being one of the streaming services first original series it has done fairly well for its self. Winning a golden globe for both, best performance by an actress and best performance by an actor in a television drama within two years of each other.
The entire series revolves around Francis Underwood ( Kevin Spacey) the South Carolina Congressmen and House Majority Whip. The show starts off when he and his wife Claire (Robin Wright)are thrown for a loop as he is not given the previously promised position of Secretary of State . From this we see Francis plot his revenge against those who have wronged him including newly elected President Garret Walker(Michel Gill).
Personally I was extremely hesitant in watching this series the first time around. It was the summer going into my sophomore year and I had no interest in politics. However I was finally convinced to at least give it a shot. From then on I was addicted to the series. The characters and storyline instantly gave me a sense of yearning, no matter how many episodes I had gone through in a day I always wanted more. It also got me thinking, can the American political system be essentially unraveled because of a vendetta from one man?
Once I got further into the series I found myself comparing this show to HBO’s Game of thrones. Granted our main character doesn’t die neither does his wife. However a lot of the characters that we start to form connections to either one resign from office or they “disappear”. Which is something that I will address in later blog posts. There’s also a lot of different forces at play just like Game of thrones. This is not a show that you can just pick up in the middle.
Peter Russo, the Representative from Pennsylvania would have to be one of the characters that I feel I can identify with. He’s cunning, humble and at some points flat out intense. He also has a more human element to him than the other characters we meet. He’s obviously got some personal inner demons that he needs to deal with. However through out the season you see him develop into a complete and utter badass. Until well the power that be deem him to be detrimental to their cause.
When it comes to relationships in this show there is a lot of different things to consider. One, do one or both parties have political power, are they strictly an all work no play or are they strictly a sexual relationship. Lets examine the obvious Frank and Claire Underwood. The couple has been married for years, Frank being the majority whip and Claire running large a non profit. Now at first we are lead to believe that two have a fairly normal relationship considering their professional lives. Getting further into the series you quickly realize that not only are they a power couple, that they legitimately feed off of each other. Claire uses franks political power to make strives in her non profit. While Frank uses her non profit as a decoy for the shady political work that he does in the shadows. It virtually seems that this power couple has little to no love in their relationship. However once something occurs in either of the two’s personal life that can effect the others career there will be hell to pay.
Like I said earlier in this posting, watching this it made me think. Can one man essentially unravel the American Political System? Francis is so pissed off that he was betrayed and passed for the position of Secretary of State. That he legitimately within the first episode comes up with a plan to become the president and get everyone that betrayed him out of office. This where we see that fight stage, this is where see that power hungry characteristic. He’s ruthless even his metaphors are flat out scary for example:
Who says that?! No one well except for Frank Underwood. Who is very shark like in his own way, the way he is attracted to weakness. The way he exploits its, its actually extremely unsettling. Which is why its not crazy to think that this one guy can literally pull apart the American Political system. We are in the middle of an election right now, looking at certain candidates its not so far fetched to believe that one specific power hungry person can literally rip his way into office. Now obviously Francis doesn’t flat out say in his speeches that he can shoot some in times square and not lose any of his followers. Simply because he doesn’t have to, his ruthlessness and relentless tactics legitimately rope in the viewers. I’ll just leave this video here its extremely self explanatory.
Now If you haven’t already seen the show and have been on the fence about it starting it, change tabs go to your Netflix and put it on.This is one of those shows that really shines a light onto what could very well be happening in our government or better yet become of it. Its worth studying not only as a piece of media but how we see people who are truly crave power. Not to mention its fascinating to try and understand how someone who held no interest in politics forms one after watching this show. The Francis character alone shows so much of our own human nature and emotion. More specially the ones that we try to hide, our animosity, ruthlessness, and some points the primal raging instinct of survival.
Now onto the fun stuff,the entire series is shot beautifully. Every shot is specifically chosen so that it evokes emotion. As a film and media major that is something I look for in every piece of film or television that I consume. For example when Francis address us(or like Spacey said when he address trump) most of the time he is eye level with the camera. Which shows that we can relate to him because he’s on our level.When he addresses the camera after getting yelled at we see him at a higher angel which shows that we are currently pitying him.
I think show is incredibly important for students to study because of three things. One the depth that every single character gets to is a work of art. There are no filler characters, every single character plays a very pivotal role in the series. No matter how much screen time they get within the series. Two it gives an hyspersenusalizde look at the american political system of the time period. Three being the most important, Francis Underwood is essentially every single person’s raw instinct of “Kill or be killed”. Wether we know it or not, we all like to succeed and gain power/respect. Granted not all of us would go to the same extent that francis does, but at the same time some of us might.