When we heard that both HBO and AMC bid for this series and lost to Netflix, we had to check it out. This is the show Netflix chose to brand and kick off their original programming. It stars Kevin Spacey, and David Fincher directed the first two episodes and helped in the creation of the show. The entire first season is available, because Netflix knows we like our binges (or at least to watch a show when we want to watch it). So is it as good as it should be?
Short answer: Yes, if you really give it a change, watch it without distractions, and listen to it. This isn't the kind of show you can surf the web and watch at the same time (like Supernatural.) Too bad they picked this as the title. It's too similar to House of Lies. We don't usually like when a character breaks the fourth wall. If we need narration, we prefer voiceovers. But this time, it didn't bother us. After you get used to it, it's one of the joys and hilarities of House of Cards.
It's yet another political show. Is it too much like Boss to survive? No. It ultimately takes a different direction, and it has a more entertaining tone and pacing. Kate Mara was good; Robin Wright was better. Kevin Spacey was the best. We were unsure about this show after the first couple of episodes, but it won us over decisively after that.
We were fascinated at how realistic this was. A politician could very well work the system and manipulate people like this in order to get power. It's chilling and would explain so much about why the government often can't seem to actually get anything done.
As for the main character...We like Frank. That's the rub. He's a schemer and he's unethical, but he's nice to people like that guy he buys steak from, he put that poor dog out of its misery in the pilot (which required coldness, but was arguably a kindness), and he has a healthy-ish marriage. He wants power. Everyone does. Can we blame him too much?
As he takes darker steps over the course of the season, we know that he is a bad guy, but we also admire him. Manipulation on this level takes cleverness. Everyone likes a good bad guy. Frank is a multilayered character with an interesting past. The supporting characters are just as scheming and fascination. There is a scumbag politician ripped straight from the headlines that we actually feel sorry for.
The writing is good. The direction is good. When the season was over, we were depressed and went through show withdrawals. We will be watching the second season with absolute certainty. Well done, Netflix. This is quality. Finally, we are obsessed with the peachoid and we were so excited to find out that it's REAL. Hilarious.
Season grade: A
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