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House of Cards’ a hit

Juan Ramon Cancio Vela | Wednesday, March 20, 2013

 

Gone are the days where Netflix resigned itself to merely being a middleman for content that could be found elsewhere, now that the online streaming service has finally shown that it too can bring unique content to its subscribers with the addition of the “House of Cards” to its online lineup.  “House of Cards” will exclusively be broadcast on Netflix. 

“House of Cards”, stars Kevin Spacey as the series’ protagonist, U.S. Rep. Frank J. Underwood.  The series begins when the President neglects to follow through on his promise to Underwood to name him Secretary of State -but the story only gets more complex as the series progresses. Underwood’s tactics stink of Machiavellian moral calculation, which Spacey embodies perfectly in his portrayal of a  power-hungry politician. Underwood pulls the audience in, and seems to be a man with all the power and influence he needs to accomplish everything he wants to achieve. He and his wife are as calculating as they come, and both are extremely invested in repaying all those who have crossed them. 

The show is host to an all-star cast that portrays characters who evolve fascinatingly over the course of Underwood’s ever-darkening pursuit for power. The story incorporates a wide range of themes that promise to keep us at the edge of our seats. 

“House of Cards” showcases the challenges of maintaining ideals in a world that does everything to thwart that pursuit, while highlighting the troubles that come with trying to fulfill individual ambition. Life on Capitol Hill is revealed to be defined by deceit, retribution, and backstabbing by its focus on those who step on others to achieve a ‘greater good.’ This show also adds a touch of adultery, murder, and addiction to pique the interest of even the most jaded viewers. 

Possibly one of the best features of this show is when Kevin Spacey’s character breaks the fourth wall to speak to us about his plans, even as they are unfolding moment by moment. Although Underwood usually shows unwavering conviction and admirable resolve even in high-pressure situations, there are instances toward the end of the season wherein Frank Underwood lets us in on some of his insecurities. This unexpected show of vulnerability is uncharacteristic of the protagonist – it draws us deeper into the plot and helps us understand the character better. 

Even though the morality of his tactics is suspect, you can’t help but find yourself almost rooting for this character and hoping he will achieve his objectives. After all the work, all the frustration and circumvention of the political system, we somehow want to see Frank Underwood get his shot at revenge – and with every passing episode he inches closer.

This show is definitely a must-see for any political drama aficionados. Hopefully, “House of Cards” is also a sign of the way Netflix hopes to shape its online streaming service. I for one am excited to see what other great series Netflix can present, and I hope the second season of “House of Cards” is as impressive as the first. 

 

 

Contact Juan Ramon Cancio Vela at jcancio@nd.edu