NOTE: I know, you probably haven't watched Netflix's House of Cards. But not every entry I write is meant for YOU, narcissist. So if all you're going to say is "I haven't watched it," come back Wednesday.
House of Cards is the rare show where I jumped on the bandwagon almost right away. I don't think I watched it the same day it came out on Netflix, but it wasn't like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, or Walking Dead where they were a few seasons in before I decided to watch. The reason is that I love politics, or at least political theater. Though strangely I never got into The West Wing; I think because it seemed too bleeding heart, do-goodery to me. I prefer the grimy underbelly like Primary Colors. What House of Cards is is a tawdry political soap opera and like a car crash or Donald Drumpf's candidacy I just can't look away from it.
A quick recap of the show is that Congressman Frank Underwood (SC-D) is spurned for Secretary of State by the new president. He then decides that he will do everything he can to undermine the presidency and ultimately become president himself. In season 1 he deposes the Secretary of State nominee for one of his choosing and then maneuvers himself into becoming vice-president. In season 2 he then creates such havoc in the White House that the president steps down in disgrace and ta da Frank is president. Season 3 focuses on his struggling presidency and the beginning of his reelection campaign.
While I think the first season was brilliant for the most part, the next two seasons were weighed down by his wife Claire. The fourth season only makes that problem even worse, to the point it brings down the entire series. A few months ago I read the novel on which this is loosely based (which was from back in the 80s and is set in Britain) and Frank's wife is pretty much a non-entity who shows up in one or two scenes without doing much. But in this series his wife is his partner in crime. In season 1 she runs her own little non-profit the Clean Water Initiative, which they could really use in Flint. After Frank becomes VP, though, the show's writers have struggled to find things for her to do and yet since Robin Wright got a lot of recognition and awards and stuff for her role they can't just force her into the background. So in season two there's this whole forced plot where she encounters a general who raped her 20 years ago and word about some abortions come out. Then in Season 3 it's not enough for her to be First Lady (because First Lady is boring) so she whines to Frank to make her ambassador to the UN. When the Senate doesn't want to confirm someone with no actual experience in diplomacy, Frank gives her the post with a "recess appointment," mostly so the series can have her do something more interesting than host tea parties and meet Girl Scout troops and all that boring shit the First Lady has to do. After she's forced out as the ambassador, she petulantly walks out on Frank.
Which is where season 4 picks up. She flies down to Texas to stay with her mommy and decides to run for a Congressional seat. OK, sure, Hillary ran for Senate while she was still First Lady, but that was when Bill was in his last year of office. Claire's trying to run for Congress at the same time her husband is running for re-election. Is she fucking brain dead? I'm not sure that would even be legal unless she divorced him. If she did get elected and he got re-elected that would be a huge conflict of interest.
When Frank outmaneuvers her out of that stupid notion, she decides on a stupider one: Vice-President! And then through a bunch of gymnastics that involves an assassination attempt, Frank getting a new liver, and an "open" vote on the floor on the Democratic convention, the whiny baby gets her wish by being put on the ticket with her husband. And I just shake my head and think, "Are you fucking serious?!"
Look, I don't hate the idea because I hate women or don't think there should be a female president or any of that, I hate it because in 227 years since the Constitution was written, there has never been anything like that. Just imagine if Bill and Hillary Clinton had run as the ticket in 1992 or Barack and Michelle Obama as the ticket in 2008, do you think they would actually have won? I honestly don't because the idea of your vice-president being your wife, who has never held elected office for a single moment, is moronic. Because God forbid something happen, you're going to have an untrained amateur in charge of the whole freaking country! It's an absurd notion and yet I'm supposed to swallow that is what's happening? Nooooope. Sorry, can't buy that even for a dollar.
As I Tweeted as I watched the show, "I don't expect House of Cards to mirror political reality, but this is just insane." I get that this is fiction, but this isn't science-fiction or fantasy so it should be the least bit credible. Otherwise you might as well make Season 5 about an alien invasion or zombie outbreak.
And this really, really makes me hate Claire's character. As I've characterized it already, she comes off as this whiny crybaby stomping her feet and bawling, "No fair you get to be president! I wanna be president now!" She's supposed to be a lot smarter than this. And while you might not think so, I'm too smart to believe that. I cannot suspend the belief nearly enough.
It's unfortunate that's the core of the season because the rest of the season is vintage House of Cards stuff: crushing the other Democratic nominees, crushing the Republican nominee (the guy from the shitty Robocop reboot and the potentially shitty Suicide Squad movie), taking on a thinly-veiled ISIL group, and fending off an expose about all the shit Frank did to become president. But this whole Claire debacle moves the series from a tawdry soap opera to a farce. It's a real shame.