If you haven't already binge-watched every single episode, House of Cards season 2 is at last on Netflix. *commence cheersounds* It's wonderfully ironic that it became available on Valentine's Day -- how droll of them. I saw plenty of Facebook and Twitter posts from people who holed-up for the weekend, had a steady stream of delivery food arriving for days, and managed to engulf themselves in the elegantly sinister world of fictional politician, Frank Underwood, and his equally compelling Lady MacBeth of a wife, Claire, both played masterfully by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
To those who marathon-ed HoC/Season 2, I salute you and rap my knuckles twice on the table. We are taking the Frank Underwood method, and absorbing the season with calculated (read: excruciating) patience. Mostly because that's the best/worst thing about Netflix series. The overwhelming pleasure of instant gratification is met with an equal, if not more overwhelming feeling of emptiness and loss as you get to the final episode of a series, knowing you'll probably have to wait a year before anything new is put out. Serioulsy, it's like somebody died. Let it be a consolation that a season 3 has been confirmed, so the saga is not over.
I'm not going to spoil with spoilers, merely confirm why this series is so worthy of the hype and hoopla, if you haven't already jumped on the House of Cards bandwagon. Yes, it's a remake of a British series from the 90s, which I was a big fan of when it first came out. I thought it was brilliant and it took my breath away. At the time, i don't think American audiences were ready for an anti-anti-anti hero of this caliber. But I think years of turbulent political turmoil and a war-weary nation have toughened our hides enough to handle Frank Underwood's breaking the fourth wall, and speaking directly to the audience with bon-mots like, "There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that's only suffering. I have no patience for useless things." This said as he kills a stray dog.
The writing is razor-sharp; you physically wince but only because it's the painful truth every time. It won't make you more of a cynic, but it's refreshing to see people speak of things the way they are, and not pander to sympathy the way so much popular fiction does. It doesn't matter if politics don't interest you, the series will hook you in within minutes. The core of every well-written series is that it spins a web of dramatization around stories of human longing, loss, and a fear of emptiness. You feel like you're falling down a rabbit hole with House of Cards, but even in this false Wonderland, you emerge with a painful sense of human truth.
Jaunty Fine Print: Image and logo from House of Cards; design by Denise Sakaki