Netflix may have entered the New Year by purging its library of some of the most classic movies and blockbusters (goodbye, Titanic), but the company redeemed itself yesterday by releasing a new trailer for Season of House of Cards, which we can start binge watching on Feb. 14 when all of the episodes become available online.
The trailer promises plenty of political scheming to keep us entertained for 13 episodes. However, the show's overall popularity is an indication of a larger shift in how we like our political dramas — we're attracted to shows that focus on government dysfunction because viewers like us are naturally skeptical towards government. Sadly, that's a recent development
Before we delve into the philosophy of a political thriller, let's talk about the trailer. It picks up where Season 1 left off: Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is being sworn into the vice presidency. The two-minute long clip promises conspiracy, murder, sex, and revenge. Underwood may have successfully connived his way to being vice president, but a cast of characters threatens to air both his and his wife's dirty laundry in the upcoming season.
House of Cards has joined a growing category of TV shows that associate political dramas with revenge, betrayal, and scandal. Along with Veep, this new genre shows the dark side of political ambition. Gone is the Clinton-fueled optimism of The West Wing days when White House staffers spent Friday night eating the President's homemade chili with him and his daughter. Where The West Wing was filled with shots of politicians walking down crowded hallways, verbosely discussing political minutiae, House of Cards gives us clips of the vice president saying things like "democracy is so overrated" straight to the camera.
Hollywood is shedding a negative light on politics, and viewers like us want to see more darkness. For most people our age, the first presidential election we remember is Bush v. Gore in 2000, an election synonymous with political dysfunction. Since then, we've read about government mishaps in every shape and form — be they congressional politicians caught in affairs or the president claiming ignorance of certain phone taps and spying scandals — and we've lived through a government shutdown.
We may not be okay with real-life political scandals that we read about in our Twitter feeds, but their mere frequency means that we're less shocked and more willing to watch when they're overdramatized on the big (small) screen.