Reading time: 7min.

by Sanaa Siddiqui

Taking the plunge: House of Cards

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to start a television show right in the middle of the action? Well, fear not – I GOT YOU.

Taking the plunge: House of Cards Subscript

I’ve always wanted to watch House of Cards, and figured – this might be the most entertaining way to immerse myself in a new show. So, here goes.

DISCLAIMER: This article might not be spoiler free, but don’t blame me – I won’t even know what’s going on.

Show: House of Cards

Chosen Episode: S3E07 – Chapter 33

What I already know: It’s centred on politics, which is a concept I’ve always found intriguing from an entertainment perspective. Politics seems to run their own showbiz lifestyle and ‘behind the scenes’ content is very popular – even if it is grossly exaggerated. The main protagonist (antagonist?) Frank Underwood is ruthless and he spends his time making other people angry. There are houses and cards, and I’m excited.

My review: the episode I chose to watch was centred on relationships – particularly the fractured marriage between Frank and Claire Underwood. I loved their dynamic, together but so clearly separate – and it was cleverly shown through certain shots in the episode.

Frank and Claire walking down the corridor only to turn to opposite rooms. Sitting at either ends of the table, making breakfast at their own sides of the kitchen, their cars parting ways at the end of the road. Two rooms, two streets, two sides. What particularly caught my attention was how their struggling marriage was emphasised through contrast with the first scene, where the pair is renewing their vows. I wanted to watch on, to work out how and why their marriage had unravelled.

Taking the plunge: House of Cards Subscript

Why seemed all too obvious. Here are two people with high-pressure, high profile jobs, enduring conflict and criticism from all around them. It was hardly going to be happy families. As Frank so aptly (and grossly) put it, “scabs keep coming off” – and it was only natural, given their strong, ruthless personalities.

Doug and the Seattle Lady as well as the Lady on the Camera had their own storyline going on– none of which I understood, but I’m pretty sure Doug’s a criminal, a stalker perhaps? Don’t blame me for being suspicious – politics carry a lot of shady characters.

Aesthetically, the show’s opening credits were bland and somewhat disappointing. Perhaps it was grounded to match the style of the show, but I’m used to opening credits with a little more flair. Sherlock, Hannibal, How To Get Away With Murder, Jessica Jones, all shows that manage to capture the audience’s imagination and hype them up for the beginning of something awesome. House of Cards not only didn’t succeed, but I was actually BORED waiting for the show to begin.

They didn’t invest too heavily in credits, and neither did they invest in lights. For the most part, scenes were weighed down under heavy mood lighting and earthy colours. There were a lot of greys, browns, greens and a lot of dimly lit ambience. Reading the paper in the dark? That can really impair your eyesight, Underwoods.

Taking the plunge: House of Cards Subscript

I loved the monks, though. Those monks better be recurring characters because damn, they know how to party. Initially I thought they were spies [1], but then I really adored the metaphors behind their perseverance. It’s not about the end result, as much as the journey taken to get there. It’s a great reflecting point for Claire and Frank, to understand that the turbulence in their marriage isn’t necessarily the end of the road, but part of their long journey together – to which they must re-commit. It’s a beautiful sentiment.

Overall: Whether I’d watch any more, I can’t yet say. I enjoyed Frank and Claire’s relationship and I’m guessing it’s one of the highlights of the series. However, I’ve never been a huge fan of politics; the jargon is too much a grind and the patriotism warrants an eye-roll every time. Maybe I’ll give it another shot – from episode 1, like a normal person.

[1] They’re definitely not spies – just there for the bantz – though, from a spy’s perspective, that would be an amazing cover!