Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

House of Cards Returns

You know you have reached a certain apex when you post a silent trailer on YouTube announcing when the next season of your show begins.

House of CardsSo it is for House of Cards, the ridiculously successful political soap opera on Netflix.

The 12-second video shows President and Mrs. Frank Underwood climbing aboard Air Force One. That’s it.

Short and sweet, the message is clear – season three will be another bumpy ride for the ambitious couple that has manipulated and maneuvered their way to the White House, with a couple of affairs and murders along the way.

For viewers who prefer realistic dramas, House of Cards isn’t their cup of tea. The story lines and plot twists are closer to science fiction than political science. Yet, the show somehow grips your attention and won’t let go. It is an addictive thriller.

Many people, including Carole and me, huddle around the television and binge-watch an entire season during a single weekend. We barely take time out to munch on popcorn between episodes.

The silent trailer, then, is a perfect teaser for House of Cards fans. We don’t need details. We have Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) doing Iago-like soliloquies to tell us what we need to know.

Of course, veteran viewers already know what to expect – pure evil. The Underwoods may be the most amoral characters ever conceived. Even Lady MacBeth came to rue her machinations. Not Frank and Claire. Seemingly the biggest regret they have is not giving up smoking.

Claire UnderwoodIf there is a breakthrough message in House of Cards, it is that women like Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) can be as scheming and ruthless as male antiheroes. Their axis of evil is perhaps the ultimate statement on gender equality.

Season two ended with Underwood standing at his new desk in the Oval Office. It is hard to know where Season three will begin or end. There are hardly more political steps to climb. Emperor is mostly a position in the hyperbolic land of Fox News.

web-spaceyYou imagine the Underwoods, now in control of the seat of power, will have to scheme and maneuver in season three to keep a lid on the schemes and maneuvers that got them into those seats. Most politicians are content to cut ribbons and hold on to their job. The Underwoods undid a vice president and outfoxed a president in the previous two seasons. Not a bad resume for a modern Richard III.

Whatever lies ahead, we know it will be outrageous and even unbelievable. But we will watch anyway because we are addicted to this couple without friends or scruples, who we think make perfect companions for cold nights in front of the fireplace and TV.

It all starts again February 27. The date is already on my calendar.


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