House of Cards
American television has always been a step behind the Brits when it comes to successfully taking the piss out of our politicians, and the streaming goliath Netflix looked to the BBC’s past for its first foray into dramatic original programming, the exceedingly drama-filled world of House of Cards. Against all odds, Netflix simultaneously unleashed all 13 episodes of its dark vision of Congressional politics, and gained millions of new subscribers in the process. Led by the droll and devious antics of Democratic House Majority Whip Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), the Emmy-nominated House of Cards delves deep into the inner workings of the seemingly impenetrable machine that is “getting shit done in Washington D.C.” And it’s a truly scary vision, filled with sex-for-power, morals flimsier than wet spaghetti, and characters whose backs have no room left for stabbing.

Frank’s bloodthirsty revenge on the system that screwed him out of a Secretary of State position is led by Spacey’s magnificent performance, and is backed by a wealth of supporting characters, including his equally self-serving wife Claire (Robin Wright), his young journalist go-between Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), and the drunken patsy Peter Russo (Corey Stoll). No one wants to believe that these are the people running the people that are running the country, but it makes for abundantly provocative TV viewing, with all the text message reading one could hope for from a series.

Orange is the New Black was a good, if too loosely plotted original series, but House of Cards is the densely dramatic web that Netflix can stick its hat in at the end of the day. Plus, it features one of the greatest lines of 2013, in restaurant owner Freddy’s (Reg E. Cathey) wise words: “But you know that’s why God gave us reflexes, so we can move the fuck out of the way when a fridge come out of nowhere.” (By Nick Venable)

House of Cards Season 2 debuts February 14, 2014.

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