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House of Cards, Part 6: A Cast of Master Obfuscators

The end of season one has left us in the dark. Here are a few questions and some predictions.

by
Becky Graebner

Bio

June 12, 2013 - 7:00 am
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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?

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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.

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I'm not sure if you read the comments or not. I have only watched the first episode of the American House of Cards but have watched all four episodes of the 1990 BBC House of Cards. The differences are striking (Francis Urquhart's wife, Elizabeth, isn't nearly as prominent a character but you'll have no doubts about her.) If you have the time please watch it. You'll find the ending a bit different from the American version.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Only the Lord knows who is good and who is bad in this series, as all of the characters have become completely impossible for us mortals to read."

I doubt if even the Lord can keep up with the good and the bad. But, bear in mind, that in today's 'realistic' or 'pragmatic' world, we are all subject to good and bad tendencies, given a set of circumstances. What may appear a redeeming gesture in one situation can be damning gesture in another.

In other words, we are all 'human,' but some of our Washington fellows are more human than others. In 'House of Cards' nearly all behaviors, good or bad, saintly or satanly, are justified to the character's satisfaction. Each character is self-serving in his own way.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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