The fall of the Underwood Empire

Photo by Brenda Lin

Well, it is that time of year again. No, I am not talking about midterms or spring break or the beginning of the pollen plague; I am talking about the release of “House of Cards” season three. Last year, I wrote a half sarcastic editorial about why I would vote for Frank Underwood in 2016. I would now like to retract that statement.

If season three taught me one thing, it has taught me this: Somewhere, between the moody, gray scale shots and the many hair colors of Claire, it was made clear that Frank Underwood has limits.

Now I remember that after last year’s release, there was an onslaught of articles chastising the show for being too Machiavellian and too unrealistic. I remember being a little disappointed in myself for enjoying a show that was such an impossible depiction of our government. I would now like to retract that statement too, because quite frankly (hah get it?), seeing Frank Underwood fall short just hurts.

The 13 hours I spent watching Frank fail to usurp goodness and the truth and everything we hope for in actual American politics was not enjoyable. Yes, it was incredibly well acted and thought provoking and overall, I would give it four and a half stars, but it was certainly not enjoyable.

Did I like seeing Vladmir Putin, or whatever we are going to pretend that character’s name is, push Frank around? No. Did I want to hear more of Heather Dunbar’s consistently valid points against Frank? Nah. Did I enjoy watching Jackie and Remy leave Frank? Nope. And could I even stand watching Claire walk out of the White House doors? Certainly not. My heart has not hurt half as much after a Netflix binge since “How I Met Your Mother.”

I realized after my 13 hour binge that there had been something inspiring about Frank Underwood’s uncanny ability to out manipulate anything that stood in his way. Sure, he is an antihero with less than justifiable, and often down-right illegal, tactics. But in an odd way, he still inspired me to reap the rewards of all my hard work and determination.

I do not agree with critics who say season three was just a drawn out intro to season four. Season three of “House of Cards” was about how Frank Underwood and all of his corruption can not out manipulate good. And, despite the pain I felt watching him flounder in the presidency he had fought so hard for, this is a good and important lesson.

I should not be rooting for Frank to succeed. Unlike his own proclamation, he is not just a “survivor;” he is a murderer. He is a traitor who has ruined and even ended the lives of his opponents. If he were not portrayed by Kevin Spacey and if the consistent breaking of the fourth wall did not make me feel so included, I would not love Frank Underwood. I would most likely condemn him.

I guess what I am trying to say, in a long, drawn out way, is that I am taking back my last “House of Cards” editorial. Before, I was okay with Frank Underwood’s despicable ways because through his self-serving acts, he was doing good for the country. The end out weighed the means. But I cannot believe that is true anymore. Not only is Frank Underwood still iniquitous, but he is also ineffective.

Though I can hear Frank chastising me now, I must say it. In 2016, I will vote for Heather Dunbar…unless she too is pushed in front of a subway.