I enjoy watching shows that force me to think about the complicated nature of being an American in the 21st century. Before you judge and say that other people have it way worse, understand that I agree with you. I didn’t say that being a 21st century American is hard. I said it was complicated. Much that exists in our lives tends to get complex. Complexity is a foul monster, one that I try and hack out of my life when I can. I enjoy simple. I enjoy straight forward and I enjoy direct. That’s sort of why I like “House of Cards.” Nothing about the show is simple. All the characters are strangling in webs that they created. It’s all threatening to smash and crash around them. We watch because we hope the crashing will be so massive and chaotic that it will justify our addiction. In reality, that’s probably not possible.
“House of Cards” is about Congressman Frank Underwood. He gets snubbed for the Secretary of State job. Because of this, he plans the destruction of the current President. I think. Underwood’s long term goals are a bit of a mystery. What we do know is that his plans are so convoluted and amazingly contrived that only fiction can do it justice. You’re not watching the show to see how Underwood finds his revenge. You’re watching the show to see how it fails and destroys himself. The worst part of this is that he continually doesn’t destroy himself. He just gets more and more powerful. He tears apart other congressmen, up-and-coming reporters, even his wife, just to achieve his goal. It’s a show about ambition at its worst. Wanting to achieve is a great quality until it can’t be satiated or abetted. Then it becomes a disease. It’s the worst type of disease, too, because it doesn’t kill the host. It just spreads to new victims.
The show is also about gender roles, vaguely. I think the show has something important to say about women. I just don’t think the show knows what it wants to say. Some episodes speak volumes about gender and the role of women and the glass ceiling and all that. Other times, it feels like the show sort of ignores it. No woman on the show is treated fairly or equitably I feel in my heart that this is done on purpose. I’m not sure if it’s done very smoothly.
What “House of Cards” is most def not about is politics. The mechanics of Congress are not even remotely accurately represented in the show. Not even sort of. You’re missing the point if you think this show is supposed to be about the evils of Washington. This show is about evil. DC is just window dressing, an interesting set piece. So if you are worried this is a fouler “West Wing,” don’t be. Where “West Wing” wanted to trumpet the virtues of Liberalism, “House of Cards” is more focused on the black parts of a our souls. Immorality is very much bipartisan.
As far as the creation of “House of Cards”, I think it’s brilliant and I want more of it. I pay 8 bucks a month for Netflex. I refuse to pay any amount of money for cable television and I applaud any and every attempt to destroy the Frankenstein that is the cable companies. I would write more about it, but that’s sort of pointless, right? I don’t like praising people that do things they should be doing anyway.