House of cards as we know, is a show based on the political events in which Frank Underwood has his hands in. The question posed is“What aspect of reality is the show trying to represent?” When you look at the title of this article you may have been thrown off. Which is exactly what I was aiming to do. Watching this show the viewer is constantly asking “Does my voice really matter? Or are the politicians pushing their own agenda?”So the reality that is being portrayed a country where the democracy can be swayed and molded by one person. Where the average american really doesn’t play a huge role in the story line. Or do they?
Lets look at the obvious shall we? From the get go this has not been a network series, its solely a Netflix exclusive series. So theres no wait for the next episode to be released because each season is brought out in its entirety. Which gives the viewers to either binge watch the season or in intervals of their choosing.
The first season of House of Cards does start off very slowly I will be the first to admit it, however the target audience of the first season was in mind for that very reason. This show is very heavily based on the information you learn about from the first couple of episodes. Yes its where most shows introduce the main characters and back stories, however house of cards doesn’t do that in the traditional way. From the get go we know that Frank is power hungry and hostile to those who oppose him. Unlike the target audience’s for reality shows the audience of HOC( House Of Cards) needed to be heavily paying attention to the story line of the show. They needed to have a higher level of education or be able to really see and put things into perspective. So who could this target audience be? The answer is simple, those who were attending college, graduated and those who analyze every bit of information that is put in front of their face. Its as simple as that if you weren’t constantly questioning what was going on and making connections between different characters storylines this show wouldn’t be having the effect it was intended to. The show is perfectly and at the same time subtly designed to make the target audience really think about their political systems.
Heres where Netflix original shows become interesting, theres very little information on the amount of viewers it gets. Netflix doesn’t sell adds like traditional television companies. It doesn’t need to, it has a viewers paying for their subscriptions and gets money for the product placement in its original content. So when the netflix execs are asked why they don’t release the numbers of its viewers they simply smile and say they don’t have to. Netflix especially in the later part of 2012 and early 2013 was a pioneer in a streaming service hosting and creating their own content, like a total badass if we are being honest.
Now this show was released in 2013 a year when Obama was able to say on top for another term, Mandella had passed and we were threatened by North Korea. Being a show where the entire first season was released at once there was no room to base any thing that happened in the show on real world events. However jumping ahead to season 3 Viktor Petrov the fictional Russian president acts and even looks like the current Russian president Vladimir Putin. So its not that the show hasn’t been influenced by current events its just that the first season wasn’t the place to make those connections the show needed to find its footing first.
Heres just a sneak peek at the Viktor, you can almost hear Putin saying the words.
Like I said earlier this show is not for everyone, it is specifically designed for those who are either in the process of higher education, have graduated or those who analyze every piece of media thrown at them. That being said this show is designed for those ideally over the age of 18. They also more specifically a middle class demographic. The show is essentially a looking glass into the world of politics for the middle class. Most of the characters in the show are over that age, mostly white with a few exceptions. Almost all except for two couples are in very serious relationships and marriages.
Episode 8 of the first season is something of a work of perfection. It also at the same time does the impossible it humanizes Frank. He goes to his Alma Mater where he is having a library being built in his honor. However he meets up with his old college friends, people that have seen him at his lowest. People who know who the real Frank is and totally accept him for what he is with open arms. Everything thing about this episode is realistic hell its the most realistic episode of the entire season. We clearly hear Frank talk with out politics being thrown into the mix. It reminds us that at one point this was a man just a regular man like you and I. The colors aren’t their dull faded tones they are almost vibrant as if they were in a dream world. They almost remind the viewers of a better time.
Like most episodes of the season we are clearly “hailing” Frank. However in this episode we are almost pitying him. With his new life he doesn’t have the friends his actual friends. He can’t bring them with him to his political world because they don’t belong there, and at the same time he can’t stay there with them because he doesn’t belong there. Its actually kind of sad to think about.
In the begging of the blog I talked about how we see reality in this show, “does my voice really matter?” We are shown how men like Frank Underwood clearly play politics to fit their own agendas and wants. However we are also given the opportunity of hearing franks thoughts on what he’s doing. So we have to ask ourselves are we just the viewer or are we part of franks game?