House of Cards (American), Season 1

I watched the first season of the American version of House of Cards recently. It caused me to stay up later than I should have a few times. I found myself intrigued by the plot lines and characters.

If you have not seen House of Cards and you wish to avoid potential spoilers, then stop here. I’ll put in a page break.

Sometimes when I begin watching a show I find a character likable very quickly. That happened with Francis Underwood. Throughout the entire season I found myself hoping for his success, at times to my own bewilderment. Why do I like this guy?

House of Cards illustrates everything that I hate about politics. With the well-being of huge numbers of people on the line blatant dishonesty, lack of practicality, and pettiness in plays a major factor in decision making. Egos may prevent progress or hijack good intentions. Seeing this sort of things makes me feel unwell and tired. It makes me wonder how I could ever feel sympathetic toward Francis Underwood, I guess that’s the mark of a successful politician.

The character Doug Stamper fascinated me, especially in the way he related to the Kristen Stewart-looking prostitute (Rachel Posner). I really thought he cared about her, then he sends her off to seduce Peter Russo, revealing he was grooming her for future use.

Russo disgusted me, yet I really wanted him to get back on track. I think the fact that he was portrayed as a Pennsylvanian, from Philly no less, influenced me. Had he been from New York, Michigan, or some other state I don’t think I would have supported him. The scenes from Philly bars and neighborhoods when Russo is talking to his old friends appeared very authentic to me. Despite wanting him to do well, I never believed for a second that his character would get sober. As an aside, the scenes with Russo’s mother were some of the most gripping scenes of the season to me–it made me ache for the hurt his character must feel. The love Russo felt for his kids and his loyalty to his constituents were washed away by the demons and vices that wouldn’t let go.

I still can’t decide if Francis and Claire love each other, or if they just use each other.

I am not a fan of Zoe Barnes.

The name of the show suggests things will not work out for Underwood. A house of cards usually comes crashing (or fluttering) down. Maybe it is just referencing the delicate nature of the rise to political power in a democracy?

I’ll definitely watch season 2 when it comes out, and against my better judgement I’ll probably continue to root for the corrupt protagonist.

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1 Comment

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One response to “House of Cards (American), Season 1

  1. kls

    Spoilers here, too:

    We got sucked in, as well. I rooted for Underwood until the incident with the union organizer. Now I feel ambivalent–it’s fun to watch him succeed in his manipulations but I’m also anticipating his fall. :)

    I was sympathetic to Russo. (Paul and I were laughing that it’s quite a show if the most sympathetic character is Russo!) To be honest, I think it’s because he is a father and you do believe that he cares about his kids (but even that doesn’t save him)–and, of course, the fact that we catch glimpses of his potential, of the man he could be. I also thought the actor who played him (Corey Stoll who, incidentally, played Hemingway in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris) did a fantastic job.

    No sympathy at all for Zoe. I’m incredulous that Lucas (former coworker?) likes her (run away!!!).

    My brother and I couldn’t agree about Underwood’s initial plans for Russo, but we both think that the murder wasn’t premeditated, that by the end of the season Underwood adjusts his plans as things happen (as opposed to having a specific, planned scheme).

    Funny that you called Rachel the Kristen Stewart lookalike. Paul was convinced it was actually Stewart in that first scene in the car.

    I’m thinking of watching the British version that inspired this version. I accidentally stumbled upon spoilers for the Brit version and there are definitely different twists in the plot.

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