Hello, lovelies. Beau here, returning after a major binge of quality television during the past seventy-two hours.
Yes, I have finished the first season of the newest business model for the entertainment industry, the David Fincher / Beau Willimon project "House of Cards", with a large cast led by Kevin Spacey as Francis "Frank" Underwood, a ruthless ambitious politician in DC.
I'll be perfectly honest in admitting that the show didn't do much for me. Whereas Homeland, Downton Abbey, Girls and Archer have proven to be tried and true addictions House of Cards treads over familiar territory with little to supplement the politics.
Spacey is, naturally, exceptional, having a ball with the material and the ability to flaunt his ungodly talents. The asides to the audience turn us into co-conspirators, advisers to his machinal, instinctual desire for revenge. Robin Wright (long one of my favorite actresses, who hasn't been given a fine enough opportunity to strut her stuff since Nine Lives years ago) fares slightly less well, given that her promising Lady Macbeth front slowly withers but all the drama is internal.
There's so much happening with Claire that I never felt, desires deserted and buried under pride and promise of immeasurable power. But Wright finds the right longing note of a woman able and disenfranchised all at once. Her husband is morally bankrupt; he's using all her credit.
I'm not sold on Kate Mara. Without being too unkind, she was the weakest link of American Horror Story: Murder House, and suffers the same fate here. In both instances, she takes on the part of a conniving mistress and the dangerous cocktail of naive nonchalance and interminable ambition proves a tough one to mix making the actress come across as too petulant, too removed or too earnest. (Rooney Mara, on the other hand, when partnering with Fincher has such a control of her own skin, a sense of herself in herself, that to see her range from rancor to resilience to rendition never seems anything less than organic. She's one of the best things about The Social Network, a film that has grown in esteem for me in the few years since its release, veering dangerously close to that 'M' word in my book. She makes sure you don't forget her.)
There's a moment in "House of Cards" where Kate steps into a dress worn previously by Robin Wright's Claire. Not being versed at all in fashion save what I picked up from The Devil Wears Prada or the boutiques I passed on my way to work in South Coast Plaza, my mind immediately jumped to something out of US Weekly: Who Wore It Best? Mara looks uncomfortable in the dress, and she feels uncomfortable in the role. I'm not sure what to do with her.
Corey Stoll as well, disappoints. In his first major role since Midnight in Paris, he aquits himself well enough with the material but there's nothing more than serviceable to what he does with the role. I can't even muster up enough passion to discuss it further.
Interestingly enough, the most unique thing about "House of Cards" has nothing to do with its quality but the manner of its delivery. Binge viewing is becoming the norm with television shows but, like binge eating, there's only so much you can stomach. Eventually you have to take a pause, step outside, go for a walk. The best television shows elicit the same kind of reaction for me, as I mentioned earlier, as many vices do for others. Coffee, cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine, sex, etc. You crave it, you thrive when you have it, and you silently rock yourself back and forth in the fetal position on the floor when you're without. You feel a void in your life when a show goes off the air (as many did this week when 30 Rock took its final bow) or even when it takes a year off to vacay in Maui.
I won't be missing House of Cards. Not my kind of drug
- Did you also run the "House of Cards" marathon?
- Did you get caught up in its web of political underminings?
- Do you think Binge Viewing is the way of the future? Or is there something to be said for the anticipation each week holds for the next step in the journey?
Tell us in the comments.