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?

June 12: House of Cards, Part 6: A Cast of Master Obfuscators


House of Cards was a slam dunk for Netflix.  The name is practically an entertainment buzzword.  The show is so widely known that a spoof was made, “House of Nerds,” for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.  The video featured Washington, D.C., superstars like John McCain, Jay Carney, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, all fighting with Frank Underwood to get the best seat at the dinner.  The dinner crowd loved it — and so did the House of Cards fans.

Obviously, this show carries some sort of magic in its pocket—it wins over audiences left and right.  Heck, half of Capitol Hill, which the show portrays in a not-so-flattering light, knew enough about it to laugh at the spoof at their “Nerd Prom.”  So what is it about this dark horse of a show that has made it so great?

Pure genius on many levels.

1. Characters that are too good at “being bad”

Southern gentleman Frank Underwood is the first piece of genius in this show. I’ve pointed out in previous posts that no matter what Frank does, you still fall for his South Carolinian charm and charisma. He’s smooth-talking and has a soft side.  He has the audience eating out of his hand and then, WHAM, he’s slapped with the title of “murderer.” Oh well, you still love him and you still want him to succeed. You just cannot hate Frank — his quips, smartass dialogue, and honest facial expressions make the audience laugh even in the darkest moments.  Frank is the perfect bad guy who continuously baits the audience only to have them coming back for more.

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