Show Time: House of Cards (American) (Review)

House of Cards is a show that I think everyone should watch, but nobody should buy into. What I mean, is that the hype for the show has really eclipsed what it actually has to offer. The show is elegant, smart, brutal, and ultimately very cold. There is no love throughout this show, and if you’re looking for a tale of heroes overcoming villains…you’re going to be sorely disappointed. This is what happens when the bad guys win, and keep winning. Nobody is coming to save the day, and Frank Underwood is going to get what he wants by any means necessary.

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Played by veteran actor Kevin Spacey, House of Cards was the flagship series that ushered in the age of Netflix’s dominant original programming. Paving the way for Netflix to create shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Master of None, House of Cards found its niche early as a strong political drama. It’s not a totally original piece, however. It’s actually a remake of the BBC’s show of the same name. The American version follows Democratic whip Frank Underwood as he vies for the presidency, and perpetrates many, many schemes to claw his way to the top.

The first season is extremely strong. It does an excellent job of introducing the characters and setting the tone. Frank is masterfully portrayed by Kevin Spacey, who seems to be having a lot of fun with the role, ultimately embracing a real life Lex Luthor (with hair, of course). Robin Wright plays Claire Underwood alongside Spacey, and her beauty is underlined by her ferocity and elegance. The whole show is tailored to feel extremely high brow, and doesn’t typically stoop into areas of the dirty and grimy when going into the villainous deeds that Frank and Claire perpetrate. This helps to make the violence and the moments of intrigue all the more brilliant, as the extreme brutality is a stark contrast from the typically white collar approach to the show’s writing.

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The later seasons definitely dip in quality due to a desensitizing of the audience as well as odd writing choices. The show jumps the shark four or five times, and by the fifth season, it’s hard to keep track of all the sub plots that are moving in the background. Characters are introduced and forgotten, and you’re expected to remember the smallest details from every season that don’t seem to mean anything, until they do. When this is executed well, it builds intrigue and helps for fantastic reveals. When it’s not, it leaves audiences scratching their heads in confusion, attempting to figure out exactly what happened.

Boasting a 4K resolution to those that have bought into the trend, House of Cards is expertly shot, and features some of the best looking cinematography out there. Netflix also releases the seasons in full to their subscribers so that they can binge watch the seasons to their heart’s content. Regardless of its flaws, the acting and brilliance of the concept of the show far outweigh the ideas that may get lost in the muddle of everything, and regardless of it all it’s still worth a watch.

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If you enjoy strong political dramas, this one’s for you. There are some truly shocking moments, and viewer discretion is absolutely advised. When this show gets down to the dark areas of evil, it slums it with the devil. Ultimately accentuating the best ideas that can come out of Netflix, House of Cards is an easy recommendation to those looking for something to watch on those lazy off days.

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