House of Cards Season Three: A Love Letter

House of Cards Season Three: A Love Letter

Good morning Rebels, and welcome back to my life.

Can we just take a moment to talk about House of Cards? Because Season 3 came out a few days ago, and I watched the whole thing, and…wow. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that House of Cards is probably the best thing on television right now.

For those who know nothing about the series, it’s about a United States Congressman named Francis Underwood who has aspirations for the Presidency.

And in his quest to achieve that goal, he resorts to every single dirty trick in the book of American politics, and as you can imagine, there are a LOT of pages in that book.

One of my favorite things about House of Cards is its sense of realism. And I’m not talking about “grittiness” like a lot of people mean when they talk about realism.

So many things these days go for a “gritty, realistic” feel, but while they definitely get the gritty part right, I don’t feel like most of them are realistic.

Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, all super gritty and tense, none of them very realistic at all.

But with House of Cards, I feel like these things ABSOLUTELY could happen. All of them. The drama might be heightened, but the actual events that occur and the decisions each character makes feel absolutely grounded in real life.

Compare that to a show like Scandal. Many of my friends love Scandal. It’s not for me, because for one thing, I don’t think the acting is that great.

But more importantly, the plotlines are just ridiculous. If there is a shark to jump, Scandal jumps it. These major, high-level politicans get involved in shenanigans that I could not believe would occur in real life.

Whereas in House of Cards, everything that happens in the show feels like it could—and maybe has—happened in real life.

The backroom dealings between parties certainly smack of reality. The constant crises that assail the President and Congress are an everyday truth.

We, the public, see them happen all the time. We just see it from the other side of the television set.

And no spoilers, but even when certain characters in the show kill people, or are killed by people…do we really believe that no U.S. politician has ever quietly disposed of a threat to their power?

Season Three contains, perhaps, less of these super-heightened scenarios of political intrigue. But I think that might make the show stronger, not weaker.

I feel like each season is more grounded than the last, and the show doesn’t seem to feel the need—like so many other gritty, so-called “realistic” shows do—to get darker and darker with each season.

Season Three actually has less “dark” moments than the first two seasons, and yet the character development, the interpersonal drama, and the scope of the political problems, ramps way, way, way up.

This season of the show was the first time I started to really appreciate the show’s title. And that might sound like a weird thing, but it’s always something I like to consider in art.

Great works of art often have great titles that give us more insight into the work of art itself, whether it’s a book or a film or a television series.

This isn’t always the case. The Lord of the Rings is fairly straightforward. Harry Potter is the same way.

But why is The Fault in Our Stars called The Fault in Our Stars? What’s the story behind the name of the film Magnolia? And what does House of Cards refer to?

It’s easy to see Frank Underwood carefully constructing his own political career and imagine that the show’s title refers to the fact that everything is a desperate balancing act, a pretty but ultimately unstable structure that could come tumbling down in the slightest gust of wind.

But can we instead imagine that the show’s title is meant to make us respect Frank? That it’s meant to point out what an impressive man he must be, for all his failings, to build a structure so strong with such weak and flimsy building materials—i.e., his fellow members of the American  government?

And could the cards in the title also refer to high-stakes gambling, where luck plays a huge role in each hand, but ultimately skill can win out, as long as you can bluff, and as long as your poker face remains solid?

And, referring specifically to Season Three, what is the relationship between the King and Queen, and how does that affect the rest of the cards in the deck?

As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of the show. If you haven’t checked out Season Three yet, or if you’ve never watched any of House of Cards, you’ve got to watch it. You’re missing out.

Those are my thoughts for the day, Rebels, if you’ve been watching the show, let me know in the comments—but please tag your spoilers.

Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you tomorrow. Maybe. Byyye.

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.

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