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Feel Worse About Democracy By Revisiting Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’

Feel Worse About Democracy By Revisiting Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’: Netflix

Netflix

It’s been an exhausting and depressing election season, with whatever party you support managing to frustrate and upset in equal measure, it feels like. Whether you’re appalled by Trump or disappointed by Clinton, it seems as if the thing most likely to drive people to the ballot boxes is a fear of the other side winning.

At times like these, it’s easy to despair about the democratic process. In the past, I’ve suggested that you fight that feeling with a dose of The West Wing, but with the election less than a week away, perhaps the best thing to do is just the opposite: Give in to it. Embrace it. Admit that electioneering, nay, all of politics is a broken, shell of a system that has seen better days. But don’t do it alone—take Frank Underwood with you.

Underwood, the lead in Netflix’s House of Cards, is the avatar of this year’s election; he’s the cliche of the corrupt, selfish politician who cares only about his own power base and how he can manipulate people. No matter which side of the political spectrum you’re on, Underwood is the cartoonish representation of everything that’s wrong with politics, and House of Cards the show that prays on the worst fears and fantasies people have about the way government works. All told, it’s a show that thinks you’re a chump for casting a vote, and will happily tell you that to your face… but only after it’s worked behind your back to ensure that your personal life, professional life and everything else you hold dear is nothing but a smoking ruin.

So when you’re fighting with yourself about how complicit you are in what is probably a inhumane, corrupt and potential evil system of selecting numerous overlords that care little about the working men and women of a once-proud nation, why not make yourself feel better by watching House of Cards? Or, at least, these high(low)lights…!


SEASON 1, EPISODE 1
Frank bribes police to make an embarrassing problem go away, starts an affair with a reporter and leaks legislation in order to further his own career. Oh, and he kills a dog, too, which was the thing that got most people upset.

SEASON 1, EPISODE 2
Frank plants a story in the press tying a U.S. Senator to an anti-Israel op-ed column that ran in a college newspaper while the Senator was editor with the intent of destroying the credibility of a rival for a political post Frank believes should be his.

SEASON 1, EPISODE 4
Frank buys the support of the Speaker of the House by forcing the closure of a shipyard in Pennsylvania, thereby freeing up funds to keep a military base in the Speaker’s district open. It’s the kind of quid pro quo that makes many uneasy about the way politics works, but on the plus side, no dead dogs.

SEASON 1, EPISODE 6
Frank first fakes an attack on his home, and later takes advantage of the accidental death of an eight-year-old (again by leaking a story in the press) to humiliate a political opponent and force-break a strike.

SEASON 1, EPISODE 11
After, in the previous episode, manipulating events so that a former pawn in his political maneuvering broke his sobriety, Frank murders said pawn in this episode because he had outlived his usefulness. Yes, really; straight-up murders him.


SEASON 2, EPISODE 1
Frank pushes reporter and former mistress Zoe Barnes in front of a train. Because, really, why not? (Note: In all seriousness, this might actually be the highlight of the entire series.)

SEASON 2, EPISODE 5
Frank purposefully sinks an entire trade deal with China over his hurt feelings about not being included, pinning the blame on his opposite number and inciting an energy crisis as a result. This is exactly the kind of thing Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of in debates this year, isn’t it?

SEASON 2, EPISODES 10-13
Frank engineers a scheme to embarrass the President and force him from office, all as a twofold attempt at revenge: firstly, on the President himself for going back on the promise to make him Secretary of State, and secondly, on one of the President’s friends, whom had dismissed Frank at an early meeting. Spoilers: It works, and Frank becomes President.


SEASON 3, EPISODE 2
As bad as things have been for Frank to this point, at least he’s never given a speech in which he outright lied to the American people. This episode: Frank outright lies to the American people during a speech by saying that he has no intentions to run for a second term as President, although of course he does.

SEASON 3, EPISODE 10
Frank puts his own election campaign before… well, everything else, really, agreeing to the demands of the Russian government in order to end a stand-off ahead of a primary challenge in Iowa, even though it means the end of a peacekeeping mission, giving way on missile defense talks and dismissing his own wife from her position with the United Nations.


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