A Royal Flush
House of Cards (2013- current)
Creator: Beau Willimon
Writer: Beau Willimon
Actors: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara, Michael Kelly, Michael Gill, Corey Stoll
Some call it the Breaking Bad effect. The explosive tv series that slowly sneaks into the award ceremonies and the minds of millions only by the word of mouth. By the opening of its highly anticipated second series, House of Cards had completely bewitched its Netflix fanbase (impressively including Barrack Obama) and started a weekend long binge period for many as they attempted to take in the meddlings of Francis and Claire Underwood; played by the darkly conniving pair of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
An adaptation of the British book and series of the same name, we see the South Carolina chief Democratic whip try to snake his way through the White House, feeling betrayed by his fellow peers for not promoting him. The story harks of a modern Macbeth as he eyes the throne from afar and manipulates and double-crosses his way up the ranks. Admittedly the first series is a slow burner, but around half way, the pacing ratchets up towards a scintillating climax. Few people would be that familiar with the acting talent on show outside of the leads, a testament to the Netflix budget stretched to its limits but every cent is superbly squeezed dry as all put in an admirable shift in both series; for example, the driving scenes were shot in front of a green screen which had previously been used as a refrigerator for fur coats. Kate Mara and Corey Stoll are a particular pick from the first series for their performances with the former acting toe to toe across from the devious Spacey as the rookie reporter, Zoe Barnes.
The second series sinks its teeth into our time from the very first episode, however. It picks off exactly from season one with the scrutiny dialled up a notch on the Underwoods. The direction and especially the lighting in particular is fantastic, with a cold hue used to magnify the separation between the Underwoods and the world at large (morally and socially). The writing for House of Cards is exceptional; Spacey will often communicate with the audience by glancing at the camera or muttering a sly comment every so often giving a much greater depth to the story.
This is a high quality tv show that just so happens to not be on tv; it both suffers and helps the cause of House of Cards as the small budget and the relative infancy of internet streaming services has encaged the sleeping giant for now. With a building fanbase, however, don’t be surprised when this inevitably steals the award shows in the near future.
What do you guys think of House of Cards? Are you happy streaming the show instead of watching it on tv? Let me know in the comment section below.