House of Cards has taken the traditional TV model by the lapels of its finely pressed suit and has given it a run for its money. It is the Game of Thrones of political drama. People subscribe to Netflix just for House of Cards.
There are numerous reasons for this. Chief among them are:
Kevin Spacey. There’s no doubting the man’s acting chops. He brings gravitas, strength, and ferocity to his portrayal of Frank Underwood.
Robin Wright. A similarly gifted actress, first seen in The Princess Bride, and easily Spacey’s equal in this.
David Fincher. Director, auteur, helmer of some of the most engrossing, if dark, movies in history: Se7en, The Social Network, Gone Girl, and others.
Not to mention that the show, while based upon an earlier British miniseries, is written by Washington insider Beau Willimon.
While that pedigree–the quality of the show’s writing, acting, production, and direction gets people in the door (so to speak)–lends the show a great deal of credibility, it’s not why I continue to watch. Sure, the quality of the performances got me hooked–no doubt. But I keep watching because it’s a human story.
It’s my story.
It’s your story.
Quite honestly, how many among us would be immune to the intoxicating allure of power continuously dangled in front of our noses? As the saying goes, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Within the construct of the the show, the catalyst which sets events in motion is a promise denied. Frank is promised an auspicious position, but is told things have changed. The sense of betrayal causes him (and his wife, Claire) to throw off all previous loyalties in pursuit of power. This, of course, leads to all manner of dark and dangerous places.
The thing is, and this is the show’s genius, who among us (though the particulars are different) hasn’t felt betrayed? Who hasn’t felt, like Frank, of casting off allegiances and getting what’s due us? While we deplore his actions, we gobble them up because he gives us a guilt-free means of vicariously living through him. So this is what it’s like, we ask ourselves? This is what it’s like to get what we (feel) we deserve.
Which proves–if we’re honest–that we all have an inner “Frank Underwood,” that black dog of our souls who:
Looks out for #1
Uses others to get what we want
Stops at nothing in pursuit of our ends
Which just shows our continuing need for Jesus, and the new life only he can give.
If we’ve hated in our hearts… He died for that.
If we’ve sought revenge… He died for that, too.
In short, if we’re human we’re flawed, marred by sin, in need of a Savior. The very one who, within the show, that Underwood denies is the one who can set us on the path to a true and lasting life. The presidency–power–is but a drop in the bucket in light of eternity.
Choose you this day. Who will you serve? Yourself, your inner “Frank,” or the One Who died that you might truly live?