- Published on Thursday, February 07 2013
- Written by Greg McIver
For years, Netflix has been dedicated to bringing the work of other artists into millions of homes around the world, but as of last week, they took a huge step in the hopes of establishing themselves as a new source of original content as well. "House of Cards", an Original Netflix Production, released all 13 episodes of its first season on February 1st, and as a nation we should be grateful for not having to wait a week for each new installment. If you were wondering whether or not that I liked the show, then that last sentence should hopefully clarify my feelings. Okay, I’ll clarify them further -- it’s a damn good show.
How best to sum up the premise of this show? Well, for all you Shakespeare fans out there, I would ask you to imagine what it would be like if Richard III was a member of Congress. For all of you comic book fans out there, I would ask you to imagine what it would be like if Thor’s brother Loki was a member of Congress (minus the magic, of course). For anybody that doesn’t fit into either of those groups... There's a really bad guy in Congress.
"House of Cards" features Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a conniving Congressman who was promised the position of Secretary of State only to have it taken from him at the last minute. Underwood, who proves very early on that he’s not the biggest fan of being betrayed, decides to be the bigger man and do the right thing. Unfortunately, the "right thing" from his point of view is to systematically destroy all of his opponents one by one. At his side is Lady Macbeth... I mean, his wife Claire, played by Robin Wright. They are both ruthless souls who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. And yet, they genuinely love each other. That right there is the key to this show’s success.
Why would a show about two underhanded, unethical people be so enjoyable? The same reason shows like "Dexter", "Breaking Bad", and "The Sopranos" are. We spend a good deal of time watching the main characters doing things that we should hate them for, yet we can’t help but sort of cheer them on. The secret is to give us glimpses of their humanity by showing they are capable of doing more than just harming people. For example, Frank Underwood is pretty funny to watch at times -- he truly does love his wife and, to be quite honest, it’s hard not to admire his cleverness as he goes about obliterating the people that are in his way. His devotion to his wife and his intelligence are redemptive; if he were just an outright lunatic a-hole, we would have nothing to root for. It’s a very fine line to walk and I believe that this series does it very well. When a show manages to achieve this delicate balance, while also properly escalating the tension and intrigue, I like to think of that show as something called “entertaining”.
As I said before, all 13 episodes are available to watch now. This, of course, allows you the opportunity to glue yourself to a couch and knock all 13 of them out in one sitting, as Yours Truly did. I would, however, challenge you to space your viewings out a bit more carefully than I was able to. I may have gotten instant gratification for being able to watch the first season in one fell swoop, but now I have to contend with waiting for Season 2 to be released. Netflix, get to work!
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