I finally got around to watching the first two episodes of House of Cards over the weekend, the Netflix original series that premiered last week, and holy moly, this show is so great. (So far, I guess. But I have faith it will continue to be so good.) As a friend of mine pointed out last night, between this and the Netflix reboot of Arrested Development, they are very quickly going to establish themselves as a legit source for cool content. (Fun sentence. Love talking about legit sources for cool content!) Although as another friend pointed out last night (the Grammys are strictly 4 friends) it is a little complicated how they released all of the episodes at the same time because now you can’t really talk about it with anyone since you’re all watching a different episode. The future is hard! But House of Cards. Oh man, right? The major complaint a lot of people seem to have is they don’t like the direct-to-camera address, but while I agree that it is slightly off-putting at first, I will say two things: one, this was in the original BBC series and also is lifted directly from the character of Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello, so at the very least it has a pretty decent pedigree (on this note: there is an interview with David Fincher and Kevin Space on Fresh Air last week where they talk about it that I think makes it feel very well thought out and considered and not just a dumb throwaway mistake that they made). Secondly, as Kevin Spacey’s political machinations get more and more convoluted, I find it to be a pretty useful method of keeping the audience apace with his Rube Goldberg machine of political backstabbing. Maybe I’m just so stupid that I need a character to wink out from the screen and say “Get ready, here comes the congressional egg falling into the president’s frying pan that will pull the anti-Israel string to open the Secretary of State window” but I can’t be the only one. There’s lots of stupid people.

Oh, and here’s another complaint I have heard about this show, and other shows, that I believe we can finally put to bed:

The depiction of the show’s “blogger” is actually pretty much 100% accurate and not even remotely an issue. I’m not going to point any fingers here, but it seems to be a consistent issue whenever someone in a TV show or a movie even casually mentions the Internet that people who spend way too much time on the Internet find fault with these depictions. “Oh I am so sure, as if anyone who had over cough 4,000 followers on Tumblr cough cough would not know what a TIFF file was!” Take a step back, guys. Most depictions of bloggers in movies and TV are basically DOCUMENTARIES about blogging compared to the egregious liberties that are taken with what it is like to actually be a cop, lawyer, doctor, politician, or housewife. The depth to which we as Internet people don’t know how anyone else’s life really works is 10000 times more profound than the depth to which the rest of the world doesn’t understand how blogs work. “So you just sit around in your pajamas all day and steal other people’s work? And someone reads that?!” I MEAN, PRETTY MUCH, GUYS, LET’S BE HONEST! House of Cards in particular gets it so right it’s crazy. Wine out of a coffee mug? Petulance and the persistent feeling that no one cares about what you have to say? Check check and mate.

This is obviously a small point of contention that only resonates with an even smaller segment of the population. (If we were to divvy up the pie you would have to select out people who have actually watched House of Cards, and then from there people who are on the Internet too much, and then from there people who don’t like how House of Cards depicted people who are on the Internet too much. So I’m basically talking to three people and they all follow each other on Twitter.) I’m just saying: it is time for bloggers to relax. (Haha, as if.) When your biggest issue with House of Cards is that Zoe Barnes doesn’t even seem to know how to use Movable Type that well, you are missing the point.

But so House of Cards!

Comments (51)
  1. Netflix should not stop with Arrested Development. Bring back all of our old friends!

    Mars Investigations, Party Down Caterers, etc.

  2. Interesting. I might need to get into this, because apparently The Americans took a nose dive in viewership for episode 2.

    • Is “The Americans” any good? I know there was a positive write up on here about it, but as much as I sort of like Felicity, I’m not sure I can buy her as a spy.

      I have heard good things about House of Cards as well. I’ll probably start watching it if only to support the idea of Netflix having original programming which could be kind of great.

    • I enjoy certain elements A LOT and other stuff I just don’t give a shit about. Also it obviously has a ticking clock, because I’m not sure how many seasons they could conceivably get out of the concept without it getting repetitive.

    • I had some focus group 6 months ago where we were shown some 85 minute version of the pilot, about which I was kind of “meh”, and then I didn’t watch it when it premiered, and so good story.

      However I did have a direct criticism that probably made the rest of the people in the room think I was a weirdo, which was, if you are going to have a dramatic music montage scene in the first episode of your TV show about how things are So 80s, YOU CAN’T deploy [mildest of spoilers]

      your Phil Collins-Miami Vice song that early. It’s the epitome of crappy 80′s action montage songs, thanks to Michael Mann. Using it so early is more than a little on the nose for a show that wants to be all reference-y. It could also be that I was being unreasonable and literally nobody else thinks that.

  3. THIS SHOW has inspired some FUCKING shitty/silly write ups FROM bloggers. Some goddamn people over ON THE AV Club are wringin their hands, worried it’s going TO BRING about the GOLDEN AGE of TV or some shit. Or how IT’S NOT good ENOUGH for such AN EPOCHAL change IN TELEVISION (“HOW will our nonsense jobs of recapping WEEKLY BE ABLE to continue?!”). It’s fucking ABSURD.

    Show’s COOL, though.

  4. Angry bloggers complaining about how they’re depicted on Netflix is the new angry nerds complaining about how they’re depicted on television.

  5. Speaking of bloggers, my sister feels the inexplicable need to create a new blog every time she faces something new in life. It’s making me nuts because she just expects everyone in the family to take time out of their busy day (EVERY day) to read about the minutia of her life. It’s the implied obligation that’s getting to me. And now she’s purchased a new (older) house that she’s going to remodel. And there’s already evidence of water leakage in the basement and minor termite damage in the garage. It’s going to be a long year for all of us relatives.

    • quit turning into your sister (and in turn, us into you)

      jk LUV YOU tell us more

    • Yeah, I feel like we need to all talk about the difference between like professional bloggers and people who write blogs about like food and fashion and motherhood and their feelings and stuff.

      • I got pretty heated a while back about the world blog. Not because I don’t like blogs, but it’s just such a broad term, and everyone seems to want to call what they do a blog, because it seemed like people wanted to read things called blogs. For context, my boss kept saying she wanted our organization to have “a blog” without any idea of what we would use it to say. I said, calling anything online that is written, and is generally displayed in date order a blog is like calling anything on paper a grocery list, except if the word for grocery list sounded cute and squishy. Far from hating blogs, I think the online world of authorship is ready to shed that cask and come up with some meaningful descriptors for what people do online. Needless to say they still mock me for my off-the-cuff example, Webolumn (web-column) which has only hurt my case.

  6. I hated the talking-to-camera routine at first but the reasons they give make sense. Plus it is sort of campy and Kevin Spacey can pull it off better than most. The character that annoys me the most is Zoe’s nemesis. She’s all “OMG What is technology? I think we should not evolve waaaaah” Bee tee dubs – Robin Wright is AMAXING in this.

    • I think your reading of Zoe’s nemesis is overly simplistic. She’s using the technology thing to needle Zoe because it’s something that she looks down upon, for sure, and maybe (maybe) that’s because she doen’st understand it or doesn’t want to evolve, but mostly it’s the seasoned veteran who has worked hard to get where she is feeling the inexplicable frustration and jealousy that accompanies watching a much younger and much less experienced person have a meteoric rise to the top.

      • Exactly! It’s what I like to call the “Gabe/Kelly dynamic”.

      • Well when you put it that way Gabe, yes I do think I am likely oversimplifying it. Part of my problem with it may be that I really love the actress, Constance Zimmer, and I think they make her look horrible – both in the script and physically on the set (she looks old, tired and worn out for her age). So I’m like snap out of it I love you – stop whining! It’s interesting how sometimes feelings you project from outside the show, regarding a certain character, can obscure your view of them. Also at this point, she’s very two dimensional because she’s not had a lot of screen time and has been in the shadows kind of lurking and barking. There is a lot they could do with that – especially based off what you said.

  7. The show is good apart from the bizarre depictions of sex and lust and also that deadly dull photographer boyfriend. Every scene with that guy is the death of television.

    • No spoilermo but super agreed. His “Passion” comes off as some horny guy in the face of readily available Ladytime. He’s into it? Except only cuz she’s there?

      • Double super agreed, especially between those two people who we are definitely all talking about. If a director is making two people pretend to have consensual sex on TV, the director should at the very least also ask one or both of those people to act like they are attracted to their co-sex-ee.

    • You mean Jeremy Steels (fake Jeremy Irons)?

      Just finished the whole shebang this weekend. Very good show. I didn’t realize until episode 12 that there would be another season coming. So I was confused and then mildly disappointed and then happy.

  8. Fincher always has away of depicting real mundane life with natural gritty realism while telling in an almost fantastical way. He’s the best magical realism American director, IMDO. The first episode had almost two much Zack Attackism, but I think it was important so it didn’t take you by surprise in the later episodes, where it makes more sense.
    Anyways, I was kind of angry because I thought it was a Full House remake at first but now I’m really enjoying this show.

    *really really

  9. Loving this show, my buddy and I (Guy’s Nights, Wednesdays from 7 to 11:30 pm only on the DS3M network (all episodes from seasons one through 3, now available!)) burned through 4 of these babies, very good.
    (As another aside, the asides get less frequent, no spoilermo)

    This whole show is like tasty tasty crack, with Kevin Spacey the freest base

  10. I’ve only seen the first episode and I didn’t love it but liked it enough to watch more (if I ever have the time).

    So I’ll comment on the format of Netflix releasing all episodes at once. It’s a bad plan for a lot of different reasons. As a viewer I don’t feel any urgency to watch because I know it’ll be there whenever and since we’re all watching at different times, it’s not like someone posts a weekly recap or my twitter feed blows up during a premiere, so there’s no push for me to watch any sooner than when I just get around to it (and that’s probably not going to be any time soon to be honest). Not to mention, if I want to talk about it with someone, there has to be the obligatory “how many episodes have you seen already” or whatever and that’s a whole thing.
    But as a business, it’s really The Worst because I could watch all 13 episodes in one weekend and then cancel Netflix. You lose twitter and internet buzz after the first week or two because people are afraid to mention it because nobody is watching at the same time. I’m beating a dead horse here, but there really doesn’t seem to be any reason to release everything at once except “We’re Netflix, we do things differently” but then why have 13 1-hour episodes at all? Why not just have a 13 hour movie that you can pause whenever? Or 7 1/2 2-hour episodes or whatever? It just seems like a silly way to carve out a difference when you’re already a business that promises different options (no commercials!)

    • I was saying something similar to my co-star-I mean Friend on guy’s night.
      My thought was, allow people to watch as they see fit. The release is the event. Event watching, week to week waiting on a prescribed date/time, is going away. Most people access digital services where they can pick and choose when to engage a storyline. Many more are like me – wait for the good show to end, watch it all at once (a weird taste of mine). Yeah it’s nice to chop it up over twitter and chat as it happens LIVE, but theres something to be said for arranging your own EVENT using the data you have.

      As I said, I loved Lillehammer also, ate it up in a few sessions. I see the same thing here, but my Friend and I are setting the pace.

      And I don’t see ppl signing up and killing netflix for the show. If they wanted to game the system, go torrent the shows! The whole of the series hits the web shortly after they hit netflix.

    • I agree about the business model but disagree about the urgency. I hate watching serial shows where you get a cliffhanger every week. I’d rather wait for a bunch of them at once. This one is specially well structured because they shows feel like chapters as opposed to stand alone shows written in standard tv formula fashion.

      I just got into The Walking Dead on Netflix cause I loved the game (get the game you guys, I’m not super into video games but this one’s worth it) which focuses on decisions made by the leader of the pack in a way more subtle and satisfying way. I don’t think it’s a show I would’ve ever gotten into if it just came once a week but i’m loving watching a couple episodes at a time at night, when I wait quietly for the next day to start.

      • Yeah I think it comes down to how much you like a show. If you really love it, you’ll be dying to see the next episode but if you are lukewarm about it, you’ll put it at the end of your list. I have plenty of shows that I’m lukewarm about but I watch them when they’re on because of the event and because of keeping up with twitter/recaps/etc when I can. As a programmer, I would guess you wouldn’t want to give people a reason NOT to watch the next episode.

        • Yeah, I have an opinion: The 13-episodes-all-at-once complaining is really kind of overblown. I mean, talk about the first-worldiest problem. “Oh man! They released all the episodes at once! Now I won’t be able to keep up with my friends because I have a job that keeps me from rotting away on my couch under a pile of cheetos watching Netflix-produced dramas!” I watched the first two episodes over the weekend and am hooked. I’d love to watch it all at once, but I enjoy more when I’m watching with friends. Or even where I tell my best friend to watch it at the same pace as me so we can banter about it.

          The whole “Well it’s an event, each episode sparks a Twitter explosion! I can’t comment on an episode that everyone saw yesterday, and have also finished the season already!” complaint also annoys me and that is because, truthfully, I do not like watching an episode air while on Twitter. Because everyone has their silly 140-character quips that just suck, and distract me from the show itself. And most of the time, as with Suits, it is people commenting on how hot all the characters are and how much they hate that one snooty character because DUH that’s how you are supposed to feel! Get with it!

          I am not attacking your preferences in all things TV, I’m just saying. Lighten up a bit and enjoy very well-done programming.

  11. This is all going to fall down…LIKE A HOUSE OF CARDS! (Vincent Price voice)

  12. House of Cards is so good, y’all! Way better than I thought it would be, although it was my bad for doubting Fincher in the first place. His episodes are beautifully shot. A fun thing to do (if you are a nerd) is look for anything red in the frame during the first 2 episodes. You basically can’t find anything, because the Seat of Power is apparently cloaked in yellows and blues.
    The talking to the camera is awesome when Fincher does it, because it’s actually filling in motivations that for character reasons he can’t show you. I thought it started getting mishandled in the Joel Schumacher episode when Spacey starts telling you things that he then shows you in the next scene. Also, Clare is the most interesting character! She is America’s new Don Draper, America.

  13. Marry me, professional blogger Kate Mara.

  14. Spoiler alert: The show ends with Kevin Spacey looking at the camera and saying “The blogger is such a card! I’m such a card! The congressman is a card! What a house of cards!”

  15. On a semi-related note, the documentary “Shakes The Clown” is a dead-on accurate depiction of clown life. Highly recommended.

  16. Hi. The best thing about this great show is the way Robin Wright holds her hand when she is carrying bags or her purse in her elbow.

  17. Remember when Gabe bashed Mad Men for being too “on the nose” with it’s metaphors and such this last season…when this show has some of the most egregious on-the-nosiery I’ve ever seen.

    That being said, I still really enjoyed it because I missed Kevin Spacey being in things and also love how it looks and sounds just like Fincher’s films.

  18. I’m glad to hear that this show was so liked. I was really excited when I came to know of it’s existence, but was a little annoyed by the first episode. Most likely just because of my expectations. But it weighed on me that the soundtrack was intense violins the whole time when nothing was really happening yet. It felt like everything was very heavy, and the gravity just hadn’t been earned by the plot yet. And the talking to the camera also clashed with the gravity of everything else stylistically. Perhaps, though, that’s only because it’s bee n weighed down (or bouyed up?) by its association with sex and the city, grey’s anatomy, etc…It seems like a series that will age well, so I’ll forge on.

    To the releaseing-all-at-once arguments, I’d imagine part of this was the fact that Netflix isn’t yet known or trusted as a content provider, so took extreme measures. I would bet they play with the format and tease a bit more, when the consuming public gives them a little more rope to play with.

  19. Oh, and wait, House of Lies -> 4th wall breaks, House of Cards -> fourth wall breaks…

  20. I love the straight-to-cam stuff! Talking to the camera is where Kevin Spacey eats. I didn’t like it when A MAJOR CHARACTER died and I didn’t know whether I’d be spoilering people who had never heard of this show or Netflix if I told them in the early hours of 3 February.

    As with ‘Borgen’ there is a bit of a problem that is maybe inevitable but it can’t really be that there is just 1x lobbyist, 1x journalist, etc. It is sort of funny that it is actually pretty detailed about the various policy initiatives in a ‘West Wing’ way but also doesn’t give a shit about any of them, really?

    I wonder how ‘The Newsroom’ will cover it, as a story, but then I wonder that about every damn thing.

  21. Nope, this show is straight-up the dumbest. And it takes a lot for me to side against something that features a shirtless Corey Stoll.

  22. Ahem, American Beauty was a WMOAT. Sorry, just pointing that out.


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