Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

House of Cads

Move over Underwoods, the House of Cads is the new thing in TV binge-watching featuring nude pictures of a would-be First Lady, the Cuban Mistress Crisis, a serial philanderer, hush money, alleged mob ties, incestuous staff connections, bankruptcies, foreign workers and lurid name-calling.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Sleazy Donald Trump and Lyin’ Ted Cruz make Frank Underwood appear like an altar boy. Underwood and his wife Claire connive and spin elaborate plots in secret. Trump and Cruz wage a war of words and pictures standing in the gutter.

Underwood is a master at playing his audience. Trump and Cruz pander to theirs. Underwood gets shot at a political rally. Trump urges supporters to bring loaded weapons to his rallies.

House_of_Cards_Season_3_Frank_Underwood_and_Claire_Underwood_promoHouse of Cards has made us gasp. House of Cads makes our jaws drop. We eagerly await each new 13-episode season of House of Cards. We are bombarded by the House of Cads daily on TV news and Twitter. The House of Cards has been extended for a fifth season. The House of Cads could go on forever.

Observers can’t avoid seeing obvious parallels between the House of Cards and the House of Cads. Words like ruthless and nihilistic get tossed around on both shows.

There are differences. The Underwoods are Democrats, more or less. The stars of the House of Cads are pretty much Republican, or at least they signed a pledge card saying they were loyal to the party – if they win the nomination.

Events move quickly on the House of Cards. While Frank lies in a hospital room waiting for a new liver, Claire is staring down the Russians and engaging the Chinese in a play to calm world tensions and end long gas lines in America. In the House of Cads, the main characters just go state to state with pretty much the same pitch and patter. The only thing that changes is the cast and the delegate count.

Women VotersWomen have taken note of both shows. They’ve learned never to meet Frank Underwood at a Metro stop. They’ve also apparently concluded that Trump and Cruz are untrustworthy, at least when it comes to issues of concern to women. Polls indicate seven in 10 female voters dislike Trump and 50 percent can’t stand Cruz. In addition to offending Mexican, Muslim and African Americans, that could pose a problem for either of them to win a general election.

Clearly, the House of Cads has its own plot, an untold number of script writers and a large contingent of secret producers and funders. And there are lots of cameos. Jeb Bush played a role as the early imaginary frontrunner, until actual voting began. Mitt Romney appeared in an episode to denounce Trump. Paul Ryan gave a terrific speech about political civility in a locked hearing room to House interns.

There are recurring characters. Chris Christie was a candidate who dropped out after getting drubbed in New Hampshire, then re-emerged as a high-profile endorser and pro bono bodyguard for Trump. Carly Fiorina, also a former candidate whose best moves were to go from the kid’s table to the main GOP presidential debate staged, suspended her campaign, but now is back cuddling up with Cruz. Ben Carson, who seemed largely aloof from the campaign and ultimately disappeared from the race, surfaced to endorse Trump and offer an existential explanation for his behavior.

SNL Political SpoofAccording to unnamed TV rating service sources, the House of Cads is rivaling Saturday Night Live in viewership by people suffering from insomnia who need a good laugh before falling asleep. The House of Cads and SNL also have running skits, which at times seem interchangeable.

As Mark Twain noted, “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”



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