What it’s about:
After helping Presidential candidate Garrett Walker (Michel Gill) win the election, Congressmen and House Majority Whip Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey, American Beauty) expects to be made Secretary of State in return. However, he soon finds out that the president intends to back out of the deal. With the help of his wife Claire, (Robin Wright, Forest Gump), his Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly, The Adjustment Bureau) and a naïve but eager journalist Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), Frank vows to take revenge on the people who have slighted him.
Why it’s so good:
Both seasons of “House of Cards” have garnered tremendous accolades including Emmys, SAG and Golden Globe nominations and wins for acting and directing. The hype is not misplaced: Spacey and Wright are seemingly both ruthless and lovable, working together as an unstoppable power couple. Meanwhile, the show’s direction involves the kind of beautiful cinematography normally reserved for movies, not television. There are so many political dramas on TV right now, but few capture the cutthroat nature of the American political system in quite the way “House of Cards” does, and politically minded viewers will find themselves sucked in immediately.
Why you should binge it:
The entire third season of “House of Cards” will be released on Netflix on Feb. 27. Whether you’ve watched it already and could use a refresher, or haven’t seen a single episode, now is the perfect time to start watching. The seasons are short and while the pacing will occasionally slow down, it is only to give viewers a breather before the events that are soon to follow. Season 2 of “House of Cards” contained several shocking twists, and my advice is to catch up and be ready for Season 3 in order to avoid any potential new spoilers.
Obviously Spacey and Wright have garnered most of the accolades for “House of Cards,” but it is evident almost immediately that the entire cast is incredibly well chosen. Kelly’s Doug Stamper starts off as just another member of Frank’s team, but quickly becomes more distinct as a powerhouse of his own, displaying almost the same degree of moral ambiguity as his boss. Congressman Peter Russo (Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris) is compelling for a set of entirely different reasons as he struggles to overcome his personal demons in an attempt to live up to Frank and Doug’s high hopes for his future.
There are a few slower episodes — such as “Chapter 8,” the cleverly titled eighth episode of the first season, where Frank is recognized at his alma mater — but, at the end of the day, all of the episodes are relevant to the overall story in some capacity. Your enjoyment is going to be affected by your interest in politics, and if watching Frank round up votes for new bills every other episode seems repetitive or uninteresting, then “House of Cards” may not be so easy to watch.