Throw away the fifty remotes because there’s no need to figure out what to watch this Friday night. It’s Valentine’s Day with House of Cards, Season 2. HoC, in case you’ve been stuck in a snow bank, is the Washington, D.C. thriller with power couple Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire Underwood (Robin Wright). It’s like a mix of an old movie starring the Clintons, but Frank and Claire aren’t that powerful yet, and a reality show featuring the Obamas. It would be nice if both couples stayed home and watched more T.V. As Cato friend Gene Healy, in his column published in the DC Examiner, writes:
That may be why D.C. pols enjoy the show so much. It’s a Beltway power fantasy, an embodiment of Washington’s id. “I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient,” President Obama has said of the show: “It’s like Kevin Spacey, man, this guy’s getting a lot of stuff done.” I see what he means, though I’d feel more comfortable if he hadn’t added that last bit.
Actually, the cynicism and the unsympathetic characters are the best thing about “House of Cards.” Those qualities alone make it a major improvement over the last Beltway drama that official Washington fell in love with, Aaron Sorkin’s execrable “West Wing.” Hoping to inspire a new generation of idealists, Sorkin built that show around the concept of an incorruptible president devoted to good works: President Bartlet, a theologian-cum-Nobel laureate in economics, so unbearably decent that even his scandals were noble, no thong-snapping involved.
Fantastical though it is, I’ll take Frank Underwood’s telenovela version of D.C. over Sorkin’s cartoon Camelot every time. At least HoC is willing to entertain the idea that political animals aren’t angels and that “public service” often deserves the scare quotes. Let the binge-viewing begin.