There are very few examples of adaptations or remakes that have taken well to the public liking, and even fewer prove to be worth the watch and outdo everything in its way. This perfectly describes House of Cards, a remarkable show following the narcissistic Francis Underwood in his strife for political power. The entire first season has been out for only 2 weeks now and has already garnered the fantastic title of being the most watched show on Netflix (which can be expected since the show is only available on Netflix to begin with). The show is a remake of the 1990 UK political drama of the same name, and author of the book as well as producer on the US version, Michael Dobbs, has stated the US version is much darker than the UK version and “is true to the spirit.”
House of Cards stars Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood, a Democratic U.S. Representative from South Carolina’s 5th congressional district. His wife Claire Underwood is the president of the Clean Water Initiative (CWI), who is played by Robin Wright. Other major characters include Zoe Barnes (played by Kate Mara), who is a reporter for The Washington Herald and made a deal with Francis Underwood to get inside information. Corey Stoll plays U.S. Representative Peter Russo, who is loyal to Francis Underwood for not giving away his drug addictions. Also, Doug Stamper is Underwood’s chief of staff, played by Michael Kelly.
Not even a minute into the first chapter of the show, the audience sees the atrocious Francis Underwood, taking what he sees as pity, killing a dying dog that has just been run over by a car. A quite thought-provoking scene, Underwood goes on to explain that, “There are two kinds of pain: the sort of pain that makes you strong- or the useless pain, the sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things.” It is how Spacey delivers these cold and powerful words to show the viewer exactly who he is — and how he isn’t afraid to show it.
Throughout the course of the first three chapters, Underwood finds himself in the predicament of being backstabbed by the president whom he helped put in office. Taking the necessary measures he needs to regain his status, Underwood takes you on a long journey through betrayals, technicalities, and my favorite, flat out lying in front of the said person’s face. How Spacey flamboyantly portrays such a sinister man can be attributed to his numerous years of playing the villain, but it is Spacey’s key performance in this series that really stands out from the movies he has made — not only do we know he is a menacing and powerful man, but we know that he is trying to help the world for the greater good. It is this versatility of Underwood that the audience find themselves in the dilemma of either liking him or hating him. Not only does the audience know that Underwood is capable of being a manipulative mastermind, but that he can get away with it all since he truly is trying to help society.
Of the three chapters, I’d like to say the second one was probably my favorite, due to the plot and the actual content. There, we saw the true under markings of the series and the characters’ intentions, as well as how far they were willing to go to get what they needed. Whereas the first chapter was more of a get-to-know prologue to the series, the second chapter quickly picks up pace and attacks everyone from every side imaginable. (The third was amazing as well, except the plot strayed from pure sadistic politics to centered planning to further manipulate a small time family — but again, an amazing installment in the series). It is in the second chapter we see the true hierarchy of the political series — how Underwood basically is able to politely blackmail (if that is such a thing) people into doing what he wants in the first place. We see senators fall and the undermining of major party representatives, but it is how everything unravels in which we are most attracted to.
There is no doubt this is addicting. This could very well be a key player in fighting other series like The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad. And fear not if you can’t stand politics — it’s a political drama, keyword there (besides political of course) being drama — you will be so enclosed to this show that you will be forced to watch the entire season in one sitting. (Hint hint: Many of us are off tomorrow for President’s Day, and what’s a better way of celebrating the birth of our first president than by power-watching the entire series on that day?).
You can watch the entire series on Netflix, and for those who don’t have the service, Netflix is offering the first episode online without going through the hassle of signing up for anything- just click here. One of the trailers is also below- featuring the great “pain” line from above.