The main challenges that faced Netflix’s political drama House of Cards was twofold. One, how to match the ongoing dramatic events happening in the Trump administration and two, how to maintain interest in a narrative that was slowly but surely running out of fresh ideas.
When the series premiered in 2013 during the Obama administration, its dramatisation of Washington power games was bold and occasionally shocking – a worthy adaptation of the British original.
Following its critically acclaimed first season, it was always easy to maintain interest as our protagonist congressman Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) continued his ambitious ascent towards the White House.
However, once that was achieved, the interest levels began to wane with the stories of the 4th season being weighted down by cliché and familiarity. Bringing Underwood’s wife Claire (the amazing Robin Wright) front and centre into the political arena after a period of estrangement proved fairly effective to keep the series afloat.
For this latest season, for at least the the first 8 or 9 episodes, the events and conflicts in the series seemed to pale in comparison to what was happening in the real world with the Trump presidency. In particular, Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman) – Underwood’s young and savvy political rival seemed like a very unrealistic presidential candidate in 2016’s political climate
To be fair, there is a game-changer in the season’s denouement that appears forced and unrealistic but will no doubt provide a platform for at least a season or two’s worth of story ideas.
Diehard fans of the Underwood characters, their popular supporting minions e.g. White House staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) and LeAnn Harvey (Neve Campbell) and new power brokers Mark Usher (Campbell Scott) and Jane Davis (Patricia Clarkson) will enjoy season 5 despite some of the ludicrous plot developments because it reveals much of the behind the scenes political wrangling that has become grist for the mill in mainstream entertainment not just in the USA but worldwide.
House of Cards Season 5 is now streaming on Netflix.
… still there’s more …