As Netflix's first big game-changing drama, House of Cards seemed destined for an unstoppable run of drama-soaked seasons. That is, until star Kevin Spacey was slammed with multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault, causing Netflix to completely sever ties with the actor during production on Season 6. It's been a trying past few weeks for producers trying to figure out how to handle things, but Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says the kinks are being worked out, and production on the Frank Underwood-less Season 6 is set to start back up again next year, with a big change to the episode count.
Though there was some temporary worry that Netflix might decide to completely shelve Season 6 in the midst of Kevin Spacey's scandal, Ted Sarandos eased those kinds of pessimistic thoughts during UBS's Global Media and Communications Conference in New York (via Deadline). He confirmed the final season will indeed bring jobs back to the thousands of Baltimore residents who depend on that gig for work, though perhaps unfortunately, we won't get the usual 13-episode season that Netflix usually allots its biggest dramas. Instead, House of Cards will bow out with an eight-episode season devoted to Claire Underwood, and though it wasn't specifically reported why five episodes were cut from the original order, we're betting it has something to do with the delays that have already cut into over a month of the season's production shoot.
As well, the writers presumably had to scrap much of what was written and filmed prior to the Spacey allegations, so lessening the episode count would allow the creative team to limit the amount of new storytelling they were responsible for. All involved are also keenly aware that how the show deals with Frank Underwood will likely be the lens through which Season 6 is critiqued, so that decision is about as important as any other decision in the show's history. In a perfect world, we'd definitely want to see a full 13-episode season centered solely on Robin Wright's Claire, but it's already going to be awkwardly strange when Season 6 comes out, given all the controversy, so giving audiences less to think about might be the best route here.
House of Cards first went on production hiatus in October, after actor Anthony Rapp first went public with his allegations against Kevin Spacey. It then didn't take long for Netflix to make its final season announcement, as well as put as much distance as possible between it and Kevin Spacey. House of Cards' initial planned return date was then pushed back, to allow more decisions to be made for the show's future. Rather than jumping back into the thick of it right before the holidays, though, it appears the producers have decided waiting until the new year was the best bet. Now that a confirmed plan is in place, maybe the writers will have an easier time trying to fix things.