I finished watching House of Cards on Netflix this weekend. John mentioned that he watched it, but I haven’t seen anyone review it here yet, so a few spoiler-ridden impressions after the break. If you’ve watched the whole thing, let us know what you thought in the comments. Spoliers come next, you’ve been warned.
Kevin Spacey likes to ham it up and the Frank Underwood role gives him that chance. The little asides that dot the episodes became a bit distracting but at the beginning they were necessary to introduce us to the couple dozen characters that we had to track to understand the show. Overall, I liked his portrayal, he seemed to be having fun living in Frank’s skin. Since Frank dominates the series, unless you like Spacey’s Underwood, you’re probably not going to like the rest of it.
I liked the way that Frank and Claire’s relationship was portrayed. They had an essentially open marriage where betrayal was defined as lying or concealing rather than fucking someone else, which is probably fairly accurate for a lot of power couples.
The DC press corpse got off a little too easy for my taste. The print dinosaur editor of the Washington Herald, who chides the ambitious reporter Zoe Barnes by saying that she’s not going to be the next Judy Miller, gave the Post its due, satirically. But Slugline, the faster-than-Politico Politico where Zoe and Janine Skorsky end up, is portrayed as a hard-hitting investigative organ, which is pretty unrealistic if the goal of the place is to beat Politico at winning the morning. But, as a plot device, Slugline had to put pressure on Frank, and so it did.
A lot of Zoe’s personal decisions didn’t make sense to me. I don’t know why she had to have an affair with Frank to get more out of him (he seemed interested in using her without the sex), and then she bounces from daddy-figure Frank to weenie Lucas.
The total fealty of staff towards their bosses was pretty realistic, though Stamper’s role as basically a CIA field agent was a little over-the-top and unbelievable.
The whole Peter Russo plot required us to buy that a guy savvy enough to get elected from a tough part of Philly was also dumb enough to do some of the stuff that he did. That was a hard sell for me at least. In general, the VP plot was pretty unbelievable, but a DC drama that is believable would be incredibly dull, so it’s the price of admission for the existence of the series.
By the way, here’s the real Frank Underwood – he lost in the 2010 wave.