After binge-watching the two suspense-filled seasons of House of Cards in just three days, I am now convinced that it is the best web series to ever be shown on the Internet (and probably one of the best series of all time; just right below Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and The Wire).
In honor of House of Cards, I have listed the five reasons why it is the greatest web series ever and why those who still haven’t watched the show must see it pronto. So prepare your high-speed Internet connection because you’re in for a treat.
5. David Fincher, Joel Schumacher, et al.
David Fincher and Joel Schumacher are only two of the few filmmakers who were tapped to direct House of Cards’ episodes. But if those names did not get you excited enough, scroll past this item and proceed with the next four entries below.
They say the key to a successful show is a great pilot. If that is true, then House of Cards has a lot to be thankful for to David Fincher. Fincher, who earned Academy Award nominations for directing twice, did not disappoint as the director of the show’s pilot. Known for his hands-on technique, he steered the show to the right direction, provided the appropriate tone, and raised the bar for the next episodes to come. Just how well did Fincher fare in the first episode? Well, he won a Primetime Emmy. Let’s leave it at that.
Joel Schumacher, James Foley, and the rest of the next directors who followed Fincher’s path were able to sustain the quality of the show. Even actresses-turned-directors Jodie Foster and Robin Wright lived up to expectations and showcased a high level of sophistication.
But the top-notch directing is only the tip of the iceberg. The show’s cinematography, scoring, screenplay and acting, among other components, were all sublime — bringing me to the next number.
4. The razor-sharp writing
The story is pretty simple (or is it?). A Congressman and his wife are ambitious people who would do whatever it takes for them to climb up the political ladder. And by political ladder, I just don’t mean the Congress or Senate (although those ladders will be tackled during the course of the series); I’m referring to the White House.
But if you think that its premise makes House of Cards is just a political drama, then you are gravely mistaken because it is more than just that. The show is filled with twists and turns you wouldn’t expect — twists and turns that only smart and skilled writers can pull off. There’s murder, mystery and mayhem — ingredients that make for a compelling and entertaining show.
Another testament to the talent of House of Cards’ writers are the solid dialogues its characters blurt out on a regular basis. Hate to admit it but it gives Grey’s Anatomy a run for its money.
One of the greatest things about House of Cards is that it was commissioned by Internet streaming media provider Netflix. And being commissioned by Netflix means it is easily available for binge-watching.
Let’s admit it: binge-watching is God’s gift to Internet users. It lessens one’s anxiety and stress of waiting a good week for another episode (especially if the showrunners are ruthless and cruel enough to throw a suspense-charged cliffhanger at the end of an episode).
Thanks to Netflix, House of Cards doesn’t feel like a 13-episode-per-season long show. It’s just one long epic waiting to be devoured by Internet and television audiences alike.
2. Robin Wright
Who would have thought that Robin Wright had it in her? Not me, definitely. Remember her small role in the classic The Princess Bride? But she proved me wrong.
In House of Cards, Wright plays Claire Underwood, the “Ice Queen” and one-half of the show’s lead couple.
To dismiss Claire only as a supporting character is a mistake many have already committed. She is not and Wright does not deliver supporting performances either. Wright’s regal and stone-cold appearance adds another dimension to Claire’s brand of evil. Upon first sight, audiences will fear her. Upon seeing two to three episodes, audiences will dismiss her as just an innocuous player. But upon finishing the first season, it will be clear that she isn’t just her husband’s wife. She is one wicked character and everyone should be very afraid of her.
Wright’s portrayal is flawlessly nuanced — something you wouldn’t expect from someone who hasn’t had a big break in years. But being the great actor that she is, she took viewers by surprise and showcased great depth and versatility.
Forget The Princess Bride. House of Cards is Robin Wright’s greatest achievement on screen yet.
1. Kevin “Frank Underwood” Spacey
Casting Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, an amoral politician who works his way up the political ladder, should have been tricky. Underwood demands to be played by an actor who looks cunning and deceitful. Spacey, meanwhile, is known for playing spiritless and more sympathetic characters. Take for example his Academy Award-winning roles in American Beauty (a troubled father and a dysfunctional husband) and The Usual Suspects (a submissive and double-faced accomplice to a crime).
But lo and behold, Spacey becomes Underwood the moment the series’ first scene opened. He throws his lines with great commitment. He acts like a real prideful politician. He cares for nothing but his wife and ambition. And unconventional as it may seem, he breaks the fourth wall and engages with the audience unlike any other actor out there.
House of Cards succeeds primarily because Kevin Spacey works as an effective and stunning lead. Without him as a solid anchor, the show whose unorthodox ways could have turned off audiences, wouldn’t have been as great as it is right now.
Underwood isn’t just an unscrupulous character in a highly-sophisticated web show. He is a politician who is alive and breathing. He walks among us and occupies probably the highest political seats in many governments all around the world. And that is thanks to Kevin Spacey’s genius.