So you’ve made it through the third season of House of Cards already, but your craving for political melodrama hasn’t been sated entirely despite the machinations of Frank Underwood and, seemingly, every single human being he’s ever come in contact with. Where to turn next? Thankfully, the answer doesn’t even involve you logging out of Netflix. Here are ten more chances to feel as if your inherent suspicion of everyone who’s ever run for public office is well-placed and, if anything, a little too kind.
HOUSE OF CARDS TRILOGY (1990)
Sure, Kevin Spacey’s great — and we’ll get to how great he is in a bit — but the American House of Cards lacks the sheer guilty-pleasure status of the British original, which saw Francis Urquhart go from being a Conservative Party lackey to the man running the country, while talking to the viewer and being driven by a wife that clearly looks to Lady MacBeth as a role model. Sounds familiar, sure, but there’s a campness (and succinctness) in the original that gives it a distinctly different flavor even for those who have fallen for the American remake.
YOUNG MR. LINCOLN (1939)
The early life of America’s favorite President is brought to factually dubious life by director John Ford and an especially intense Henry Fonda. The result is a masterpiece — the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing — but don’t expect historical accuracy: the Oscar nomination was in the category of “Best Original Story,” which suggests just how faithful this retelling is to what actually happened. Still, what could be more American than whitewashing the truth just a little?
THE WEST WING (1999)
Let’s face it: the political utopia of The West Wing — where the good guys always win, and the bad guys aren’t even that bad when it comes down to it (at least, during the Aaron Sorkin years) — is about as far from the cynicism about everything that House of Cards peddles, but that makes it the perfect way to recover from the antics of Frank Underwood and his increasingly-inhuman cabal. Just imagine a President Bartlet/President Underwood debate. The levels of rhetoric might level Washington.
THIS REVOLUTION (2005)
Any questions you might have about the levels of subtlety available in this 2005 movie about political insurrection at the Republican National Convention might be answered by the fact that it was produced by “Guerrilla News Network,” but don’t let that put you off — instead, embrace the surreally of watching an embedded journalist uncover the truth behind the levels of political control of free speech back in America. If nothing else, tune in for Rosario Dawson being far too good for the rest of the movie.
A million miles away from the genericised take on Abraham Lincoln, Steven Soderbergh’s biopic on the life and times of real-life revolutionary Ernesto Guevara (“Che,” if you’re nasty) is a tour de force, with Benicio del Toro suitably magnetic in the title role. Initially released as two movies, the collective epic is sprawling, messy and utterly engrossing.
CASINO JACK (2010)
Years before Kevin Spacey took on the role of Frank Underwood, he played Jack Abramoff, Washington DC lobbyist and the man at the center of the kind of White House scandal that Underwood could’ve quashed without breaking a sweat. (Admittedly, said quashing likely would’ve involved at least one murder, but omelets and eggs, you know?) In many ways, Casino Jack is a spiritual forerunner to the Netflix House of Cards; all it misses is Robin Wright and a Washington that’s just a little bit more functional.
THE KENNEDYS (2011)
There’s no denying that there’s some pretty massive rewriting of history going on behind this TV miniseries take on America’s Favorite Political Family Unless You’re Talking The Bushes Or The Clintons, and there are also some interesting casting choices — Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy is something that makes more sense the less you think about it — but Tom Wilkinson’s Joe Kennedy Sr. makes everything worthwhile. Come for the dubious memoir, stay for the performances.
THE IRON LADY (2011)
Dubious is not the word to describe Meryl Streep’s take on British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in this biographical movie from Mamma Mia director Phylidia Lloyd that pretty much manages the tricky task of putting the life and career of one of the most important leaders in British history into some kind of perspective. Admittedly, it doesn’t have time to pack everything in — and Streep humanizes the woman more than some might say she deserved — but as far as political movies about the latter part of the 20th century go, it’s great.
POLITICAL ANIMALS (2012)
If you took the hard bargaining and misanthropic sheen away from House of Cards, and instead added more than a few pages from The Hillary Clinton Story, you might end up with something like this short-lived political TV show from a few years back, with Sigourney Weaver playing Hillary — I’m sorry, I mean “Elaine Barrish Hammond,” a former First Lady turned U.S. Secretary of State trying to keep her family together amidst scandal and potential international incidents.
THE POLITICIAN’S HUSBAND (2013)
More “it’s hard to be married to someone in politics” drama, this British mini-series features David Tennant and Emily Watson as two politicians whose careers are in conflict despite both theoretically working for the same party. If you spent the entirety of House of Cards wishing that Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood was the central character, this very well might be the show for you.