Power, Sex, and Corruption – House Of Cards

First, a shout out to my awesome parents for getting us a Wii for Christmas so we can stream Netflix!

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to binge watching television shows on Netflix. All the episodes are right there!? Of course I’m going to watch all of them in ONE sitting. So, when I heard Netflix was creating its first Original Series and that it would release all 13 episodes at once and that it would star Kevin Spacey and be directed by David Fincher, I was there. So, so, there.

If you haven’t heard about this new show, it’s called House of Cards and tells the story of a ruthless and cunning Congressman, Francis Underwood, and his wife Claire, who will stop at nothing to conquer everything. It’s being billed as a “wicked political drama” that illuminates the shadowy world of power, sex, and corruption in modern D.C. Kate Mara co-stars as an overlooked reporter who will trade everything for the inside scoop.

The show is dark, to say the least. There are several moments that are pretty hard to stomach and induced a great desire within yours truly to take a brisk shower. The most intriguing aspect of the show is the way it portrays power. Which character has the most? When did they get it? How did they get it and who did they step on to get it? Will they lose it? Exploring this idea on the political stage with really specific narratives is both provocative and disturbing.

I haven’t finished all thirteen episodes yet (I’ve got three left). But  there’s one scene in particular, in episode 9, that I want to talk about.

A couple episodes into the series, Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), starts sleeping with Congressman Underwood (K. Space) in exchange for his inside information. “An exchange between two consenting adults.” Their relationship isn’t treated romantically in the slightest. To the audience it is a business transaction. But, early in episode 9, Zoe informs Frank that she doesn’t want to sleep with him anymore. She still wants his information and explains that she will continue to be at his beck and call for stories he wishes to leak.

That doesn’t work for Underwood. When using Zoe is no longer part of the equation, Frank has the power. He holds it over Zoe. She won’t give him what he wants, so he refuses to give her the information she wants. Just when you think she will rise above where she’s been, stop compromising herself, and find a different angle, she caves and gives Frank what he wants.

This is certainly an extreme example, but it really made me think about what we are willing to do to get to the top. Zoe doesn’t care if she’s considered a “whore” to Frank. As long as she gets the information she needs to be the first one to release a story, she’ll keep doing what works. Even if it means lowering herself.

One of the taglines for the show is, “Bad for the greater good.” The fact is, the end never justifies the means, and it CERTAINLY doesn’t when we’re talking careers. We might not be asked to sleep with someone to move forward, but what are we asked to do? What are we willing to do?