A war cry went out last week: ‘House of Cards!’ Everyone must watch ‘House of Cards!’ ‘House of Cards’ is on Netflix! STAY IN! CANCEL PLANS! WATCH ‘HOUSE OF CARDS!’
If you didn’t do that, you are sorely behind. Here’s some stuff about the new brilliant Netflix original series to help you keep up with the rest of the world. Or else, face shame for the rest of your life.
What is ‘House of Cards?’
‘House of Cards’ is the first Netflix original TV program. That means it premiered on Netflix and will stay only there. It stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Kate Mara. It is produced by David Fincher, who also directed the first two episodes. It is a ruthless political drama, wherein Spacey’s character, a congressman named Francis Underwood, uses many sneaky and downright sociopathic tactics to gun for the nation’s highest office. Robin Wright is his equally chilling and frightening wife. Kate Mara is a young, ambitious newspaper reporter he is feeding stories to and who is getting in way over her head.
The show is based on a BBC miniseries and a novel by Michael Dobbs. The show was pitched to many networks including HBO and Showtime but Netflix, hoping to kickstart their original programming, outbid them all.
What’s so new about this?
Aside from the usual hullabaloo when a film star goes to TV (which is what Spacey is doing), he’s not just taking a traditional route. He’s appearing in a TV show meant directly for people’s computers. Plus, a well-regarded movie director like Fincher got behind a TV show that’ll only be for people with Netflix accounts. And Netflix is now offering original programming — but not shitty web series, like Hulu. No, AMAZING cinematic well-written masterpieces like ‘House of Cards,’ and soon, the new season of ‘Arrested Development.’ In another genius move, the entire first season was released at once, forcing everyone to stay home watch all of it rather than waiting week to week. It’s a new era in how viewers consume TV — and it shows the people in charge are paying attention, and are interested in making quality programming.
Why do people love it?
I am not yet done with ‘House of Cards,’ but from the first scene of the first episode, it grabs you. It’s thrilling and mysterious. Kevin Spacey’s character also talks to the camera so you get a really great inside scoop on everything that’s going on and you’re never too confused despite all the jargon. It’s also really well-shot. It’s cinematic and sweepingly beautiful. It reminds me of the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ in that it’s like mini-movies rather than TV episodes.
Is there anything I can relate to?
Well I am loving the arrogant little shit that is Kate Mara’s reporter character Zoe Barnes. She gets made fun of at her job at the Washington Herald (a fictional Post) because she wants to run a political blog and because she understands the power of Twitter. She represents the young person who knows more about how the world works now than their stodgy old superiors. (In one telling, but seemingly unrelated scene, Robin Wright tries to buy coffee but her older cashier has trouble working the machine until she’s instructed on the right way by a bleach-blonde college student.) One of the big messages of the show is not to underestimate the power of young people who understand mass media and the power of their reach — whether that be a Twitter following or a blog or getting on TV. We are young. Do not fuck with us.
What about Kevin Spacey?
His acting is phenomenal. He is the new Walter White (of ‘Breaking Bad’) in the sense that he is not a good guy and yet he’s your protagonist and the one you’re rooting for. He’s manipulative and smart and cold as ice. His character, Francis Underwood, joins ‘Dexter’ in how sociopathic and self-serving he can be. Yet, you still want him to get his way. Spacey is a treasure. We’re actually all privileged to see him acting in this.
DOES THIS NOT CONVINCE YOU? Go and watch ‘House of Cards!’ It’s on Netflix Instant! It’s way better than ‘The Newsroom,’ which tries to do similar things. It’s all there in one 13 episode swoop. You have no excuse.