Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

6 Reasons Why The Good Wife Trumps House of Cards

Frank Underwood and company really jumped the shark in the second season. Politicos should check out CBS's underrated gem instead.

by
David Forsmark

Bio

March 22, 2014 - 2:00 pm
Page 1 of 7  Next ->   View as Single Page

the-good-wife-press-conference-590x350

Here is your one and only warning: I am going to discuss some House of Cards plot points from season two. But don’t write and say I spoiled the show for you. The writers did that.

While the first season of House of Cards was hardly realistic, the plotting–especially the moves of its main character, Congressman Frank Underwood–was adroit and fascinating.

But in season two Frank Underwood has gone from being an amoral scheming man of unquenchable ambition to a monster with fewer human feelings than Tony Soprano—much fewer.  Unlike Breaking Bad, where we saw a man’s gradual slide from compromising with evil to embracing it, House of Cards lurched into full-blown sociopathy with jarring fashion.

So if you tuned back in to House of Cards this season looking for moments of sheer brilliance like Frank Underwood’s eulogy at the funeral of the girl who drove off the road while texting about the giant-peach water tower—with its mix of pathos, compassion and, yes, self-interest–you will be severely disappointed.

Instead, we are treated to an impenetrable plot about Chinese trade negotiations and illegal campaign finance, and the way Frank is going to use it to undermine the president since he is next in line. But nearly everything about this plot is not how it would, or could, happen in real life—and is weirdly confusing and obvious at the same time.

Worst of all, the House of Cards’ ideological slip is showing, with a complete nonsensical portrait of a “Tea Party” senator who votes “no” on the biggest entitlement reform since entitlements were invented because… well, just because he’s an idiot.

This is in sharp contrast to the CBS legal/political drama The Good Wife. Most of the campaign events and media kerfuffles make sense—as does the public’s reaction to them.  You can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys (or the smart guys from the stupid guys) by their ideology (although extreme leftists like a global warming obsessed federal judge are generally the kookiest characters).

But best of all, good people can do less than admirable things they shouldn’t in the heat of the moment, while antagonists are not always evil or stupid, they are just on the other side of the issue. Though sometimes they are evil or stupid.

Kind of like life outside the political bubble.

Oh yeah, and here’s how every Eliot Spitzer/Anthony Weiner/Mark Sanford press conference should end:

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Obviously, this column was written before this last week's rather shocking development on The Good Wife of killing off a principal character, though I wouldn't have revealed it, anyway. But that episode also has a developing-- and rather realistically handled-- investigation into voter fraud, something that TV, even the news, usually gets wrong.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nice critique of both shows. While nobody in "Cards" is appealing, Frank's political skills and sheer deviousness made the show compelling in the first season. Season 2 was stupid and boring from the start, but I dropped it from my watch list after the insanely disgusting threesome episode.

"The Good Wife," meanwhile, consistently has the most brilliant writing on broadcast television, and the actors are outstanding. While it may not include many conservative characters, it treats us and our viewpoints fairer than most other programs.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The best thing that House of Cards does is portray the evil guys as Democrats. It really jumped the shark this season. The Good Wife despite great acting, is about to jump the shark. I liked the fact that they were not afraid to portray one of the characters, the daughter, as a Christian.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I watched the first episode of the first season of House of Cards, and I didn't see even one character I could relate to. Everyone was a self-serving jerk. Utter dreck, not worth my time.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've never seen House of Cards, so I can't comment on it. I used to watch The Good Wife but the anti-conservative stuff really got so blatant that I couldn't watch it anymore. It would be one thing if there were some strong conservative regular characters on the show, but other than the Gary Cole character, who isn't on very often, EVERYONE is a big lib. Hollywood, if you want a successful show, don't go out of your way to insult half of your potential audience.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not insulted by watching liberals have to confront the contradictions of their ideology about least once a month on a show set in Chicago. It's about the inside the Loop ruling class. That's who is in it.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's actually realistic. In Chicago, the entire ruling class, political and legal, are big libs. And the only character who has never compromised his integrity is the one occasionally-seen conservative Tea Party dude! All the lefty regulars have shown themselves as ready and willing to bend over if the price or the cause is right. I still love said show...
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
House of Cards started out very well but everyone is either evil or stupid or both. Who do I pull for? And the second season writing makes no sense, it's true. The fastest and surest way to the presidency once Underwood becomes VP would be to support the president and become the nominee upon his serving his terms. Only an idiot would take the chances he takes. And yes when Frank started personally killing people, the series leaped a flock of sharks. Herd? Finally, why did they never explain Doug's incredible loyalty? There was a story line that would have been interesting.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are right.
On the Doug question, where did he acquire his covert abilities? He's not just sneaky, he's physically dangerous.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah I found him to be the most interesting character in the show. Underwood doesn't treat him particularly well and yet he will do pretty much anything for his boss. Did Claire, Francis and Doug have a three way as well like they did with Meecham? Another moment where the writing went off the rails, imho. Of course, we learned that Underwood is just a little gay when he went to the library opening. I thought, wait, aren't we supposed to like gay characters in this day and age? A few little twists are entertaining. Too many and things just get silly.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agreed.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just remember, the character played by Christine Baranski, Diane Lockhart, took a cold, gratuitous shot at Sarah Palin, for no reason. Since then I haven't watched the show.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The key to good drama isn't having your arguments out there the whole time, the key is having such shots answered in kind. It was... in spades.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
David77...Yeah but Diane married Kurt, the ballistics expert. Isn't that good enough or does she have to become a born again Christian too?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
This article is unbearably and constantly stupid. House of Cards trumps.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
View All