Netflix’s House of Cards has come crashing down. The streaming giant has decided to halt production on the sixth season of the hit political drama in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations against its star, Kevin Spacey.
According to a statement from Netflix and its producing partner, Media Rights Company, filming will be on hiatus “until further notice.” On Monday it was announced that season six would be the show’s last, but it was unclear if that was already the plan, or if it accelerated the show’s finale after the Spacey news broke. It appears now as though Netflix is preparing for a windfall of stories similar to the one told by Star Wars: Discovery star Anthony Rapp, in which he accused Spacey of making an unwanted sexual advance on him at a party. Rapp was 14-years-old when the incident allegedly occurred.
Netflix explained that it needs time to “review the current situation and to address any concerns” that the show’s cast and crew might have, a process that began when executives from both Netflix and MRC traveled to Baltimore to gauge morale on set. Spacey was not present at the time of the visit.
In fact, the actor has yet to make a public appearance or a follow-up statement since his controversial response to Rapp’s accusation, in which Spacey used his apology to come out as a gay man officially. The statement—which Spacey issued on Friday via Twitter—was met with near-universal condemnation from those inside Hollywood and the LGBTQ community.
With more stories about Spacey’s past expected to emerge (his questionable behavior has been another open secret in the industry for years), it’s hard to fathom a scenario in which Netflix resumes shooting season six. Remember, the Spacey story comes as Hollywood is still reeling from the blowback of the Weinstein revelations. Sexual assault has long been apart of Hollywood’s fabric, and many are hoping that the Weinstein scandal will finally force the industry to clean up its act. Netflix would have a difficult time moving forward with its flagship show as long as Spacey’s name is on the marquee.
So where does House of Cards go from here? At the end of season five, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright Penn) seized control of her husband’s presidency, leaving Spacey’s Frank Underwood relegated to the sidelines. Could the show find a way to dispose of Frank Underwood off-screen and move forward with Claire as its driving force? Though possible, and despite the urging of fans, it’s highly unlikely.
House of Cards has been running on fumes the past two seasons, which explains the report that Netflix was planning to pull the plug before the Spacey story broke. And with Wright Penn’s movie career enjoying the second act, she doesn’t need to stay on a show that would limit her creatively.
The likely scenario here is that Netflix ends House of Cards altogether and moves forward with a spinoff. According to Variety, there are several ideas in early development, including one about Underwood’s brooding lackey, Doug Stamper. Since the chances that Spacey would play a role in the spin-off are virtually nonexistent, the writers could address the fate of the Underwoods in a way that would give closure to fans of the original. And if Netflix needs some ideas on how to get rid of Frank Underwood, they could mine ideas from Liberals, who’ve been devising ways to get rid of a president since last November.