House of Cards: Reality Index

by holditnow


Season 2 of Netflix’s House of Cards has left me divided. It has left me with the same feeling you get after consuming fast food. It’s tasty while you’re eating it, but afterwards you don’t feel full, you just feel different. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are still very watchable, absolute power corrupts absolutely – check, but I found more often than naught my suspension of disbelief was having a hard time getting to first base. Seduction was an underlying theme of this season but it was heavy on the dangling carrot and light on the Barry White. I think I take my cuff-links with a little less tie the damsel to railroad tracks symbolism. Speaking of that…. there will be spoilers.

Ok, so I’m going to borrow steal the brilliant recap format from the high watermark of all TV recaps: Vulture’s Gossip Girl coverage. (They made watching a bad show fun.) This is how it works: points are awarded when events seem believable and deducted when the events are a little too implausible. At the end, we’ll tally the score and see if our tale of the Underwoods veers into the realms of the unreal, and yes I do know this is a TV show but even TV has its limits.


A testament to House of Cards’ believability is that it plays on the idea that somewhere in the back of our minds we secretly believe that politics is as greasy as it’s portrayed. The question “Do you think Washington is really like that?” or some version of it has probably been uttered in every living room from coast to coast and beyond. This is the opportune moment for the current reigning household authority on all things pop culture/politics /conspiracy theories to either confirm or deny this proposal. This is also the opportune moment to look at your roommate/significant other/soul mate/ life coach/binge watching buddy and think you’re so full of…….. the truth or what have you. +10

Frank’s and Claire’s lust for power above all else seems plausible. They will use and dispose of anyone in their path. No one is immune: old flames, new flames, friends, colleagues, favourite chefs  and so on. +10

The fact they hung the smear campaign infidelity portrait of Claire in their home to complete the lie. +20

The idea the President of the United States could use a Xanax. +20

Between books, reenactments, miniature figurines and all manner of souvenirs, the American Civil War is big business, that and some old wounds still haven’t healed. +10

The pressures of Washington could drive any bird lover to snap a few necks. +10

The threesome seems just about right for all the people involved: Claire gets a little of what she burned down with the photographer, Frank gets to relive his college days and the chauffeur is just doing his duty. The Underwoods seem more like a business arrangement than a married couple, so what’s a little mutual affair? +5

85 on the believability scale, not bad but let’s see about the flip-side of the coin.


When one ties a damsel to a railroad track you always run the risk of some do-gooder showing up at the last minute spoiling your well laid plans. So instead of fumbling with some complicated knot; a good quick shove really does the job. The idea that the Vice President of the United States disguised only in a film-noir fedora would do his own dirty work in a crowded subway station with only one working surveillance camera, well…. Add the fact that they assigned Chief Wiggum to the case…. -30 This did however supply one of those I can’t believe what I just saw TV moments.

Doug’s middle aged balding sex appeal is so alluring that every nubile twenty-something woman can’t help but fall into bed with him. -20

The super intelligent mastermind hacker who uses Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights references to allude to the  deep web would name his pet guinea pig Cashew. -5

The President and the First Lady are so ditsy that they can be run out of office for offences they didn’t commit. Frank had more trouble throwing a baseball than ousting the most powerful man in the free world. -50

Even though she was told that Frank was out to get her husband, the First Lady sees nothing wrong with divulging a little career crippling personal information to Claire. -10


-115 on the ‘that could happen scale’, with a total score of 85-115= -30

Overall we slipped into the implausible, but just like fast food -we know we shouldn’t, but what’s a little implausibility every once in a while.