Binge TV: “House of Cards”

By Sidney Butler

via Netflix
via Netflix

STATUS
Season 3 premiered on Netflix on February 27th. All seasons are available for streaming.

HISTORY
House of Cards” was originally produced as a four-episode miniseries for the BBC in 1990; in February 2013, it was adapted for Netflix. During pre-production, Netflix did its homework, enlisting cinematic icon David Fincher to shoot the pilot and casting Kevin Spacey as the lead.  In 2013 House of Cards” made history, becoming the first show from an online service provider to win an Emmy nomination.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
House of Cards” is a political thriller set in modern-day Washington D.C. The show follows Frank and Claire Underwood as they try to rise to political power through manipulation and forceful charm. The series begins with Frank Underwood, the House majority whip, being passed over for appointment as Secretary of State. This launches his elaborate plan to get himself into an even greater position of power.

MEET THE CHARACTERS
Frank (Francis) Underwood: The House majority whip of the United States. He’s duplicitous and cunning and will not stop until he gets what he wants from the political machine. Throughout the show, Frank will break the “fourth wall” and describe his internal feelings to the audience, unveiling his most conniving of schemes. His power hungry attitude is expressed in every aspect of his life; it is theorized that he and his wife Claire actually married for power not love.

Claire Underwood:  Claire met Francis (what she calls him) while attending Harvard Law School. She wanted kids, but Frank did not wish to bring a child into “a world of pain.” Claire is a strong and determined woman who does not like to be taken care of or coddled, proven by her relationship with Frank. She began the series as the CEO of the Clean Water Initiative, a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring clean, drinkable water to developing and impoverished countries. The mystery surrounding Claire’s past only develops as the series evolves, and her skeletons come to light in intriguing and surprising ways.

Zoe Barnes: A young, pretty, and sometimes naïve new reporter. She develops a sexual relationship with Frank which develops into a mutual partnership of exchanging information in order to gain power within their respective careers.

Doug Stamper: Frank’s right-hand man, normally referred to as only “Stamper.” He’s cold and calculating, a vital cog in Frank’s manipulative political machine. Serving as his chief of staff, Stamper commits all of Frank’s dirty work. Due to decades-long loyalty, Stamper finds himself handling ruthless jobs on his own for Frank, finding it difficult to separate his work life from his personal one.

WHY SHOULD I WATCH?
House of Cards” is arguably one of the most talked-about shows at the moment. Each season is relatively short and easy to catch up on, leaving you with hours of conversation if you ever find yourself in need of some quick conversation. The intensity of modern government portrayed in this show will leave you secretly craving more.

IN CONCLUSION
If you are ever finding yourself in a power hungry political thriller mood, House of Cards” is there to satisfy that urge. It’s witty, intellectually sharp, and Kevin Spacey is perfect as the manipulative Frank Underwood. House of Cards” gives you an inside look into the American political system in a new and exciting way.

Sidney Butler is a staff writer. Email her at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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