House of Cards Review


Netflix’s original series have been taking the world by storm over the past few years from Orange is the New Black to, most recently, 13 Reasons WhyHouse of Cards is one of those original series – and one that goes far beyond the excellence of the others.

Political dramas usually have a one-series run with three hour-long episodes. They’re usually alright, sometimes a little bit exciting (the only other one I’ve ever liked is The Politician’s Husband, a BBC UK production starring David Tennant), but usually just above average. House of Cards is certainly not the usual political drama, then: it has far too many layers for that.

Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) and Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey)

Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey of American Beauty and The Usual Suspects, is in a race to become Secretary of State when we first meet him and his wife Claire, portrayed by Robin Wright, most recently of Wonder Woman fame. He’s ruthless and he’s cruel, that we know from the very beginning. In the first series, we see him stoop to all kinds of horror to become more than just Secretary of State, his wife at his side (for most of it, anyway). Be warned, though: this wife is not like most others in politics. She’s a force to be reckoned with too.

Characters like Frank Underwood don’t often have the ability to connect with an audience, certainly not an audience on a 65-hour Netflix binge, but Spacey’s perfect portrayal of the Texan beast for which he won an Emmy crosses the boundaries that occur when the main character is borderline sociopathic.

Underwood is much like Shakespeare’s Richard III as Beau Willimon, the writer behind the masterpiece, makes use of Shakespeare’s asides technique, where a character speaks directly to the audience, throughout the show’s five series which ultimately creates a unique bond between the audience and Spacey’s Frank. Even when he’s killing someone, you still want him to win and be the president.

Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), one part of Underwood’s collateral damage

The ‘many layers’ of House of Cards I spoke about before come in the relationships between characters. Polyamory is a running theme of the show and when we first see Claire with another man and not Frank, we’re pretty hurt. Or at least I was. Once we realise that, actually, it’s their arrangement, things get interesting. They get even more so when we see Frank Underwood, a usually hardened figure, get intimate with other men. The lines are suddenly blurred and it becomes so brilliant with Spacey and Wright making you believe every moment.

Truthfully, there is so much I could say about House of Cards: the lies, the betrayal, the plot twists you actually don’t expect, the emotion and the love of power – they all make it what it is. Stellar. This Netflix series is one you’ve simply got to watch and allow to take over your whole life for a week because it’s worth every second. And, as Kevin Spacey put it himself, House of Cards has “never been more relevant”. Until now, the White House has never been portrayed so close to reality…