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House of Cards: The Complete First Season

House of Cards

Season: 
The Complete First Season
Regular Air Date: 
February 1
Network(s): 
Genre: 
Grade:
A

House of Cards is a reinvention of sorts of the original BBC production of the same name starring Ian Richardson. The American version of the show is set in Washington and features somewhat similar character personalities, but the writing was given an overhaul by Beau Willimon (Farragut North) in order to make the show more immersive for American viewers. The show stars Kevin Spacey (The Father of Invention), Robin Wright (Forrest Gump), Kate Mara (Brokeback Mountain), Corey Stoll (The Bourne Legacy), and Michael Kelly (Man of Steel).

From the opening dialogue of the show, where we see Kevin Spacey burst from his home to find a neighbors dog laying injured in the street from a hit and run, and where Spacey looks at the camera and explains two types of people in the world, ones that would watch in sympathy as the dog suffers and others that would take action to end the animals suffering, as he smothers the dog to death, I knew I was hooked.

I love anti-heroes more then I love heroes, and what better place for a character like this then in politics?

The show follows Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), House Majority Whip, whose has all but single handedly put Garrett Walker (Michael Gill) into his new role as President of the United States. Underwood doesn’t care about Walker, doesn’t even like him, but promises were made that Underwood would quickly move up under Garrett’s camp as Secretary of State, a position he is ultimately passed over for, a message delivered by the White House Chief of Staff no less, Walker nowhere to be found. Obviously upset with the decision Underwood remains calm and accepts the offer to keep working for Garrett’s camp in the same position he’s already in. On the outside the man is clearly bothered, but underneath he’s a well of revenge and anger that will guide the viewers through some pretty nasty, unforgiving, and limitless political chaos initiated by Underwood and his wife (Robin Wright) who are out for blood.

I’ve always been a Kevin Spacey fan. The guy was a great breakout character in Se7en and The Usual Suspects, he’s gone on to do so many diverse and interesting roles that I’ve always considered him to be a real actor, one that holds themselves to no limits. His work in providing an outlet to unknowns in his Trigger Street project has also been amazing stuff. So when I saw that he was starring in House of Cards, a program that would become kind of revolutionary considering it was being original content aired on Netflix, it kind of threw me for a loop. Mind you I didn’t watch it on Netflix, but I’m glad it landed in my workload. 

I have to hand it to the production crew that put this show together. The show makes no qualms about the corruption and darkness in Washington, from the lowly upstart political journalist to the highest man in office. People hate politics, hate politicians, and can’t stand the fact that Washington, despite whatever bones they may throw to the little people, the system is design to take care of those whose lineage has sat in its halls for too long. House of Cards makes little effort to provide viewers with characters of hope. These characters are born into the show broken and their storylines consist mainly of their passion to either be the center of the universe or to shake the entire universe down to the ground.

Spacey is absolutely outrageous as Francis Underwood. He’s crafty, underhanded, seedy, dark, but at his core, in contrast with the moves he’s making, not entirely an unlikable character. It also helps that I love revenge stories.

Like most major shows these days you’re going to find vulgar language, nudity and sex, violence, and an overall not so sunny outlook on life. That’s just the way shows have been running even as far back as The Sopranos. It’s a touch of life magnified by the fantasy of our compulsions allowed to manifest themselves through a safe medium. I’ve got no problems with that. In any case, its an excellent show that I plan to continue with since Netflix has already approved a second season. Looking forward to it. Enjoy. 

AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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