Check out the previous installments in Becky Graebner’s dissection of House of Cards. Spoiler Warning!

May 8: 3 Washington D.C. Stereotypes House of Cards Hits Too Close for Comfort

May 15: The House of Cards Vision of Infidelity: More Fact than Fiction

May 22: Seduce Your Way to the Top? Meet The Anne Boleyns of Washington, D.C.

May 29: Why We Love to Hate Politicians

June 5: Can ‘Evil’ Sometimes Be Good?


The art of reading body language is extremely helpful in Washington, D.C.  Those who wheel and deal for a living must possess this ability—otherwise, they will be unable to decide who is lying, who is telling the truth, and will not be able to gain leverage over competitors.  In House of Cards, Frank Underwood is amazingly good at reading his opponent.  He knows when someone is lying to him and when to push peoples’ buttons just a little bit harder in order to get what he wants.  He is a master at reading people.

Although I am not as good as Frank, I like to consider myself pretty good at reading those around me.  However, no matter how hard I try, I don’t stand a chance against the characters in House of Cards.  As soon as I think I’ve figured out a character, they change their mask and I have to start my analysis all over again.  In one episode, Character X might show their soft side, but two episodes later, the same character might take part in a murder?!  Eventually, I realized I cannot read the characters at all—or predict what they know or what they will do.

The show producers and writers obfuscate the true intentions of several individuals, which allows for great plot twists…and leaves the audience in doubt as to who they can trust.  It’s hard to piece together the truth or predict the future when the audience is not sure who is truthful and who is a deceiver. Below are a few questions that season one leaves unanswered. What is certain is that House of Cards teaches the audience a valuable lesson about Washington, D.C.: trust no one.