“Game of Thrones” had the Red Wedding, “Breaking Bad” had Ozymandia and now “House of Cards” has Chapter 14. Netflix’s Emmy award-winning drama returned with all of the episodes of its second season released on Valentine’s Day. Sex, corruption, crime and a charming southern congressman all returned stronger than ever.
The series, which stars Kevin Spacey as Vice President Francis Underwood, follows the under dealings in Washington politics. However, in this Washington, anything goes. For the writers, who based the series off the BBC miniseries of the same name, anything goes as well.
Although many events have been taken from the original series, the writers have been unflinching in their portrayal. At times, you forget these characters are supposed to have souls. It’s guilty pleasure television at its best.
However, the series has a serious singular problem and that is the lack of a problem. Every conflict is solved efficiently and often without a hitch.
What the series is doing right is giving other characters storylines that give them depth. Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood has especially been given more attention.
Too often in the first season of the series was Claire pushed off to the sidelines and delegated to storylines that were tied up quickly. However, she is now front and center and equals with Spacey.
Wright, who won a Golden Globe earlier this year for her work on the series, handles the added weight with grace. She was able to take Claire’s cold façade and allow viewers to see the humanity in her, especially in “Chapter 17,” which will surely make her a threat for the Emmys this year.
Also given the opportunity to display his talents was Michael Kelly. His portrayal of Francis’s Chief of Staff was threatening, cold and calculated, but similarly to Claire, he was humanized and Kelly rose to the occasion.
Other supporting characters that have been stealing the spotlight are Jacqueline Sharp (played by Molly Parker), Remy Danton (Mahershala Ali) and Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney). Hopefully, for the good of the series, the writers will make these characters worthy opponents to Washington’s power couple.
What “House of Cards” does so well is it doesn’t patronize its audience.
Beau Willimon knows how to move the storyline along at a pace that some regular television viewers may not be used to. But for the sake of the storytelling, it works.
As the season progresses, the story becomes more twisted, the Underwoods become more menacing and the show becomes juicier.
However, there is a legitimately solid footing that the directors create and the writers are able to build on.
“House of Cards” is an often ridiculous, unrealistic and even pretentious show. However, that is what we need in television today.
Too often are shows guilty pleasures or critical darlings. Why can’t we have both? “Breaking Bad” and now “House of Cards” have done it. The minds behind “House of Cards” were able to apply the event television format to a well-written character-driven series.
Despite its ridiculousness, the series offers up a thrilling and engaging look at the government of our nightmares.