‘House of Cards’ can’t compete with outrageousness of real campaigns

He has no moral compass, has ruined countless lives and has murdered at least two acquaintances with his own hands. Yet, were he campaigning in the real world, Frank Underwood still would be one of the more reasonable choices this primary season.

Such is the reality to which “House of Cards” (12:01 a.m. Friday, Netflix) returns.

You can almost hear President Underwood (Kevin Spacey) out on the campaign trail, trying in vain to get the media to care about his beloved jobs program, America Works, amid the shouting and caterwauling about sweating and spelling errors, high-heeled boots and tiny hands.

How would he compete for attention in an election cycle that’s already seen one candidate tell anyone who would listen about that time he stabbed a guy? By bragging about having had an affair with a reporter before shoving her in front of a moving train? Or by boasting about killing a congressman and making it look like a suicide?

Even if Underwood sought headlines by revealing that he and the first lady, Claire (Robin Wright), once had a threeway with a Secret Service agent, some former reality-show host would just call him a loser before saying something weird about menstruation and confirming once again that, if said reality-show host’s daughter weren’t his daughter, “perhaps (he’d) be dating her.”

When he was introduced three short years ago, Underwood was a shocking, Machiavellian monster. Today, he’d be an also-ran. Today, he’d be Jeb.

The last time we saw them, Underwood had just won the Iowa caucus, and Claire announced she was leaving him.

The latter development wasn’t just a tease. As things pick up in season four, Claire has decided her husband has become a detriment to her ambitions and returns home to Texas, and her estranged mother (Ellen Burstyn), to plot her future. Those plans rely heavily on a savvy political strategist (Neve Campbell) and the whims of a veteran congresswoman (Cicely Tyson).

Meanwhile, Underwood’s chief of staff, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), has returned from killing and burying Rachel (Rachel Brosnahan) in the New Mexico desert in order to help his boss undermine Claire.

One of the problems that’s always plagued “House of Cards” is that Underwood never has had a worthy adversary for his chicanery. Claire is more than up to that challenge. But at what cost?

The series began with Underwood serving as the House Majority Whip. By the end of season one, he’d maneuvered his way into the vice presidency. A year later, he was in the Oval Office. Now, by playing the “War of the Rose Garden” card so soon, it’s hard to envision an interesting scenario for season five.

To get there, though, Underwood will have to survive the challenge from Democratic rival Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) and New York’s popular Republican governor (Joel Kinnaman). He’ll also have to overcome what the series paints as a horribly damaging racial scandal.

Kudos to Underwood both for recognizing the Ku Klux Klan and realizing he should distance himself from the organization. But the sad reality is, that sort of incident likely would only boost his poll numbers were he running in this election cycle.

It’s just another unfortunate reminder that the real world has moved past this once-Mephistophelean president.

By comparison, Underwood is nearly as quaint and cuddly as Jed Bartlet pardoning a turkey on “The West Wing.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com. On Twitter: @life_onthecouch.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like