Everything That’s Wrong With ‘House Of Cards’ Is Everything Wrong With Everything

Occasionally, Jabberwockracy will share submissions from guest contributors who want to join the conversation. Today’s contributor, Marissa Piccolo, is a freshman at the University of Connecticut, studying political science and economics. Anyone looking to submit a letter to the editor for consideration is welcome to do so here

For those of you who have been living under a rock and not heard of House of Cards, it is the highly addictive Netflix original series that chronicles the rise of U.S. Congressman Francis Underwood through the American federal government. It’s a story of deception, betrayal, and power obsession with an eerie resemblance to Macbeth, and, well, reality.

Being a political science major, the show has been a traumatic experience. I can’t help but feel I will inevitably become the “Christina” – a well-educated, dedicated young staffer who constantly finds herself manipulated despite her strong sense of right and wrong. It’s more than frustrating; it’s disheartening to see that the bad guy always wins.  And that’s not a spoiler; it’s the theme of the show. Although I’m only halfway done with the second season, I have learned not to hang too tightly onto any glimmer of hope otherwise.

The show’s use of dramatic irony has taken years off my life. Underwood’s soliloquies give us a cryptic insight to his plans, connecting us with his hidden agenda, yet leaving us powerless as we watch him prevail over and over again. If it was not for these glimpses into his mind, the audience would simply be unable to follow the show – incapable to keeping track of the manipulation that happens every minute of every episode. It all feels so out of control, yet so calculated at the same time.

The most stunning thing, to me, is that everyone nonetheless roots for Frank Underwood. As impressed as I am by his ability to efficiently screw absolutely everyone over with absolutely no blood on his hands, I am moreso disgusted. Frank Underwood was never a good guy. The very first minutes of the first episode we are well aware that all he is thinking about is power – hell, he tells us himself in one of his infamous monologues. Frank can’t even claim the same “antihero” character sympathy we had for Walter White from Breaking Bad. He doesn’t deserve our support. Maybe it’s because mentally aligning ourselves with Frank makes us all feel a little less powerless.

Frank Underwood is our modern stereotype of the politician: the one who is more of a picture on the front page than a person, incapable of feeling, and who we can’t control. This generation of students considers political science just as immoral of a major as business. Maybe I’m overreacting, but everything wrong with House of Cards is everything wrong with everything.

You don’t have to agree with everything I said, but you have to at least acknowledge this: House of Cards is not censored in China. As in, China – a country that only screens 34 foreign films a year. This is how our federal government is being portrayed around the world. We can’t even blame Netflix’s producing team for this depiction, because we all know it’s inspired by reality. And while I absolutely will continue watching House of Cards, I can only hope I am not the only one who loves to hate it.