This show is brutal. Ruthless. Engaging. I started watching it earlier this year and took a bit of a break before finishing it. I actually spent all of yesterday watching it from Episode 5 to 13. Yes, I was that captivated by it. It also helped that I’ve been ill for the last couple days, so I couldn’t do much other than watch “tv.”
Anyway, this is a Netflix original series starring Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a democrat from S.C. and the House Majority Whip. It was adapted from the BBC miniseries of that same name that was based on a novel by Michael Dobbs. At the beginning of the series, Underwood is passed up for the Secretary of State position and has decided to get revenge.
Throughout the series, which seems to span over the course of 6 months, Underwood along with his wife, Claire (played by Robin Wright), reporter/part-time mistress, Zoe Barnes (played by Kate Mara), and Chief of Staff, Doug Stamper (played by Michael Kelly), manipulate the lives of others to get what they want. There are several twists and turns along with some occasional gasps (Kevin Spacey is a bit freaky!).
Frank and Claire Underwood are a power couple in every sense of the word. They lie, manipulate, and sleep with people as they so choose to get the upper hand. Childless, they crave excitement and power over simple lives. Claire is the head over a clean water initiative company. She has no problem firing half her staff to replace them or even haggling with her husband to get his big-wig friends to spend more money. She is brutal and cold the majority of the series, but there is more than that to her. I find her character fascinating. Frank gets darker and darker as the show goes on. You see glimpses of his humanity every now and again, but the majority of the show he is like a vengeful chess master. If something doesn’t fall into line then he simply adjusts and continues on. He rarely makes big mistakes. There are few people he actually trusts and those he does, he still has no problem manipulating them.
Zoe Barnes is an ambitious reporter who ends up meeting Frank just as he begins his plan. She has no idea how deep the darkness gets and sees no harm in sleeping with Frank to get what she wants (information). She looks up to him, but her feelings begin to compromise her usefulness. I found her a little annoying but a necessary character. There needed to be some kind of tension in that power couple. I’m interested in how her character will grow in the next season.
Doug Stamper is the guy that does Frank’s dirty work the majority of the show. He keeps things quiet and protects Frank. I actually like his character because he’s the sidekick. He has a conscious but his loyalty to Frank overshadows everything. He isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, but deep down he is a very good guy.
Peter Russo is a U.S. Representative that becomes loyal to Frank after Frank threatened to expose his substance addiction. His life soon takes a turn for the worse under the hands of Frank. You hope that one day he is able to take back his life and come out of everything better than where he started, but it doesn’t look good for him.
There are a few other characters that are pretty consistent, but that would make this post way too long. Instead, I’m going to suggest that you go check the show out. It is a bit brutal, but I like the idea of showing the dirty side of politics. It reminds me of Scandal in a way, but much grittier.