Review: House of Cards

Kevin Spacey in "House of Cards" Courtesy of MCT Campus

Kevin Spacey in “House of Cards” Courtesy of MCT Campus

By Jarrett Quick.

When I heard Netflix was producing an original series with Kevin Spacey as the lead, I was excited.

Netflix is set to revive two previously cancelled along with new shows, so I was eager to see their first step in creating original programming. If “House of Cards” is any indication, the future of content creation is in good hands.

The show is a political drama centered around U.S. Representative Francis “Frank” Underwood (Kevin Spacey) seeking to become Secretary of State after losing the promotion to another politician.

Kevin Spacey deftly pulls off Underwood’s ability to be both charming and ruthless, producing a character who is willing and able to manipulate anyone to get what he wants. Robin Wright is also pitch perfect as Claire Underwood, Frank’s wife.

Wright plays the character in tune with Spacey’s Underwood: cold, conniving, and thirsty for the ultimate goal of power.

Together they have a chemistry that makes the motivation to their actions believable. The two are flawed, and their relationship is no different, but their loyalty to each other is evident. Even the cast of secondary characters are well acted, especially Corey Stoll as conflicted, alcoholic U.S. Representative Peter Russo.

Underwood often breaks the fourth wall to explain his actions to the audience, taking you through his process as he forges a path towards more influence on Capitol Hill. These moments make you feel as if you’re in it right there alongside him, as if he’s taking of the mask and revealing the truth to you and you alone.

Even when some of the more morally reprehensible events unfolded over the course of the show, I still found myself rooting for Underwood.

The writing is top notch, and even smaller characters have depth. The dialogue is snappy, and Underwood’s southern sensibilities add some clever wordplay and tense conversational stand-offs between him and anyone who has something he wants.

Set in Washington D.C., the show feels real. David Fincher directed the first two episodes, setting up the darker tone for the rest of the series. From the From the Oval Office to Underwood’s favorite rib joint “Freddy’s Diner,” the show really explores the city from top to bottom. Everything is shot well, and the show has an polish comparable to any HBO or Showtime program.

Things get pretty heated as the plot unfolds, so adult themes and activities abound. People die, people have sex, standard fare for anyone familiar with “Game of Thrones” or “Breaking Bad.”

Netflix definitely took a chance with “House of Cards,” and it seems to have payed off. Because Netflix released it themselves, every episode was available from day one, letting you watch when it’s convenient or binge viewing the entire series in one sitting. Overall, the show is a great start for the new medium and a highly recommended watch.

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