I just finished watching the 4th season of House of Cards, or as I like to refer to this season: Below and Beyond. For a show that should feel Shakespearean in scope; Bill is nowhere in sight. The three main points I gathered this season were: no one knows their proper place/ position ( if a pipe needs fixing, ask the First Lady – she can do anything), the power of rehearsal ( an inordinate amount of time was given to people practicing their lines – I kinda like this fact because always talking off the cuff will eventually reveal how utterly out of your depth you are) and lastly how enamored the public is with speechifying at this moment in time. Take a minute and do a quick count in your head as to how many rhetoric laced speeches we hear on a daily basis. Soapbox salesmen must be making a killing. Obviously, there’s an election going on in the show and in real life, but who knew we were so craving to hear other people soundbite our fears, hopes and dreams to the tune of billions of dollars so they can turn around in the future and slash budgets for sorely needed services because there’s no money. The irony would be delicious if it were’t so scary. Speaking of scary: scary Underwoods are way more fun to watch then feuding Underwoods, so how did they do?
Again, 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. Warning Spoilers
The Underwoods are nothing if not consistent. The plausibility of their actions according to their characters is always intact but the plausibility of their actions according to their stations well let’s say – what’s in a title? They are the President and the First Lady, but have a hard time getting respect from terrorists and flower arrangers alike. I’m sure, the first thing anyone would imagine themselves doing if they were ever invited into the Oval office is to sit on the President’s desk like they owned the place like Governor Conway did.
This scores him major points on the reality side: lack of respect for the position of the Presidency. In this day and age you don’t even have to have held public office for a single day to feel you’re qualified for the most powerful position in the western world. The Presidency looks like something you’d be really really good at. Perceived entitlement is the only job qualification. +100 points
Speaking of the Conways, they’re kind of perfect. They should definitely get everything they want in this life. Instagram as Norman Rockwell painting: +50 points
This also leads to my favourite line this season, maybe in the history of H of C. When asked if Claire regrets not having children by Cathy Conway, Claire responds, “Do you regret having them?” -so cold, so good. + 50 points
Plus besides, how would Claire explain to her kids why Tom the writer was always having super quiet silent breakfast time with them? Meacham is dead, long live Meachem. +50 points
A resounding 250 points in the real column! But on the flip-side…..
When producing a TV show there are some things that are unavoidable; like what do you do when you biggest star is in a coma? Do you have them just lay their doing nothing for a couple of episodes? Solution: unnecessary dream sequences -check. You also spend a lot of money on accurate recreation set pieces so you might as well use them.Why else would you have letter-opener death threats in the Oval office? (I guess that is kind of believable). This is also the only reason I can imagine, even in this completely fantastical world, where the Conways would stay in Claire’s bedroom. It is obviously done for the opportunity for candid exchanges between the antagonists and provided for my favourite line of the series, but Claire ain’t having no rugrats jumping on her bed. – 50 points.
Speaking of people being in places they shouldn’t be. The First Lady had her finger in so many pies this season she might as well be the Vice President, oh wait..
Claire strong arming the Russian President – 50 points
Claire negotiating with the head of an international terrorist organization. Did no one watch season three when she went to negotiate with another prisoner? -50 points
The final scene that shows every character in the Situation room. It’s like they won a radio contest – win a chance to watch a public execution with the President live in the Situation Room. What are those people doing in there? – 50 points.
The only person not in the Situation room was a bloody translator when the terrorist goes off script. “I wonder what he’s saying? Let’s just look at one another and let him keep speaking until he says something in English again.” -100 points
Lastly, for a season so obsessed with information tracking on the net, why would a Frank smear campaign involve a photocopy billboard of his dad shaking hands with a member of the KKK instead of leaking the image online? -20 points Oh wait, being aligned with intolerant racism is no longer the political deathblow it should be, we can scratch that last one. 0 points
300 for the unreal.
Another season, another reason to go above and beyond the limit of plausibility. As far as this show goes, it’s got nothing on reality.
Season 3 Season 2