Binge Guide

Why You Should Binge the First Two Seasons of House of Cards Right Now

There's still time to catch up before season three drops on Feb. 27.

by | February 18, 2015 | Comments

With the third season of Netflix’s Emmy and Golden Globe-winning drama scheduled for release on February 27, it’s a great time to get caught up on the career of predatory politician Francis Underwood. We won’t spoil any details for those who have yet to stream the series, but since the season will — in the tradition of Netflix programming — be released in its entirety, it’s probably a good idea to catch up quickly.

 

House of Cards

House of Cards

What’s the premise? A wily and ambitious congressman utilizes his considerable influence to climb his way up the political ladder, manipulating colleagues along the way and leaving unsuspecting victims in his wake.

What’s it like? Frank Underwood is not a nice man, but he is, for better or worse, the show’s central figure. He manipulates, wheedles, gladhands, seethes, rants, negotiates, and plots behind closed doors, all to fulfill his personal vendettas. In that sense, the series is something like a fusion of The West Wing‘s political gamesmanship and Boardwalk Empire‘s ruthless misanthropy. If Nucky Thompson ran for Congress and decided he wanted some payback for being overlooked for a cabinet position, it might look something like House of Cards. With more tommy guns.

Where can I see it? Both season one and two of House of Cards are available on Netflix, of course, but they’re also available on Amazon and Vudu. The only place to see season three when it premieres, however, will be on Netflix.

How long will it take? Both seasons clock in at 13 hourlong episodes (plus or minus a few minutes), so you can easily run through the whole lot of them before season three debuts. If you’re highly caffeinated, you might even be able to get through all 26 episodes in a single, dedicated weekend.

What do the critics think? Both seasons one and two of House of Cards are Certified Fresh at 84 percent and 85 percent, respectively. While Kevin Spacey’s icy demeanor and brutal tactics as Frank Underwood initially left some critics feeling a bit icky, most echoed the sentiments of IGN’s Roth Cornet, who wrote, “The production is as sleek and well executed as any you would expect from this caliber of talent, and a match for most high-end cable programs.” The series’ first season also made history when it became the first online-only program to take home a Golden Globe (Outstanding Lead Actress for Robin Wright), and Spacey himself just picked one up back in January for his performance in season two.

Why should I watch this? The first and foremost reason to queue up House of Cards is two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, who plays Frank Underwood with a quiet, diabolical menace that simmers just beneath the surface of his smarmy demeanor. He’s not the only one who shines, though; Kate Mara is deceptively cunning as ambitious journalist Zoe Barnes, and Robin Wright’s work as Underwood’s equally clever wife Claire is outstanding. Beyond the acting, there are also some fine folks in the director’s chair, including David Fincher (who previously worked with Spacey on Seven and won an Emmy for the pilot episode), James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross), and Allen Coulter (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire), just to name a few. Thankfully, House of Cards puts its wealth of talent to good use, as series creator/writer Beau Willimon deftly weaves together Underwood’s political machinations, his marital struggles, and various subplots in service of a densely plotted revenge narrative. The series’ cynicism and slow-burn pacing may not appeal to everyone, but we dare you not to be hooked after the first episode.

What’s my next step? House of Cards is actually an American adaptation of a 1990 British miniseries of the same name, which was itself an adaptation of a 1989 novel by Michael Dobbs called — you guessed it — House of Cards, so those would be logical places to start. Dobbs also penned two sequels, To Play the King and The Final Cut, which were again adapted into UK miniseries, and since it appears Netflix isn’t necessarily drawing from those works for subsequent seasons of its own series, you should feel safe checking them out without worrying about spoilers. If you blow through the show and you’re looking for some similar fare on television, you might enjoy The Good Wife, The West Wing, the UK series State of Play, or even Scandal. Political thrillers are popular on the big screen, so you’ve got a rich variety of films to choose from, including The Ides of March (also written by Beau Willimon), All the President’s Men, State of Play (based on the series mentioned above), Advise and Consent, and, if you need something a little lighter, try In the Loop or Bob Roberts.

What do you like about House of Cards? How would you explain it to a newbie? Get in on the conversation here.

  • gun will travel

    The first season – definitely. And the first episode of Season Two. But I think the series takes a step down from there. It’s still way, way better than broadcast TV, but I’d definitely watch Sense8 twice before I finished watching Seasons 2 and 3 of House of Cards.

  • Mrs.K

    Never watched it but I am intrigued by the high ratings…maybe I will stream season 1. I watched the trailer before and it looked interesting but not interesting enough for me to tune in….

Tag Cloud

psychological thriller crime Sci-Fi 99% Hallmark Christmas movies Chernobyl foreign Reality comics latino batman Cartoon Network robots vampires American Society of Cinematographers rotten RT History Brie Larson Lionsgate scorecard boxoffice 21st Century Fox worst movies Spike crossover werewolf comiccon harry potter aliens Election National Geographic Christmas slashers cancelled TV series SDCC 007 cancelled television MTV Peacock venice TCA 2017 Marathons anthology award winner fast and furious Endgame ID Alien superhero stop motion Thanksgiving Britbox OWN Fantasy nature Oscars Mary poppins Teen Amazon Prime Pride Month CNN Stephen King stand-up comedy obituary Nominations The Purge Apple TV Plus screenings animated toy story golden globes Apple TV+ cinemax USA Network festivals NYCC name the review a nightmare on elm street History Superheroes Netflix Biopics Toys Film Festival worst Certified Fresh Writers Guild of America Apple 2018 football dogs unscripted Columbia Pictures dark spinoff Mystery President SXSW DC streaming service LGBT Esquire south america joker justice league Fox News hist streaming Awards Tour Character Guide sports Schedule Pop Pet Sematary YouTube Premium christmas movies 20th Century Fox die hard dceu TV Land ghosts independent nfl Disney streaming service italian Cannes The Academy news political drama Amazon Studios BBC FX historical drama Avengers Crackle Superheroe Disney+ Disney Plus The Walking Dead HBO TCA Awards San Diego Comic-Con Netflix Christmas movies classics MSNBC diversity comedies documentaries WGN Martial Arts Sundance Now what to watch Captain marvel james bond Marvel Studios reviews Binge Guide Elton John sag awards video on demand transformers Awards ABC Family Pop TV IFC Films chucky Opinion green book Food Network Mudbound El Rey versus CMT Fox Searchlight Starz video spanish language romance doctor who adaptation Black History Month zero dark thirty rt archives politics laika TV Countdown Ovation VICE YouTube fresh 71st Emmy Awards AMC critics dragons Funimation Pixar free movies ITV Amazon Comics on TV war romantic comedy Valentine's Day Horror twilight series Walt Disney Pictures Family Freeform Star Wars Action NBC TCA Tubi indie DGA PBS Holiday USA social media hollywood 2016 Comedy SundanceTV all-time Baby Yoda X-Men VOD canceled TV shows Ellie Kemper TIFF emmy awards Interview crime thriller mutant Hear Us Out adventure comic RT21 sequel HBO Go Trailer PlayStation cooking First Look travel spanish YouTube Red miniseries Hallmark police drama Winter TV jamie lee curtis TCM Television Academy spy thriller 2015 Acorn TV Shondaland Holidays nbcuniversal Shudder TNT casting richard e. Grant Year in Review TBS thriller ESPN Set visit Disney Plus GIFs Television Critics Association WarnerMedia crime drama parents dc Star Trek Sneak Peek cats docudrama Mary Poppins Returns Fall TV Sony Pictures The Witch The CW Polls and Games remakes theme song Rom-Com Hulu Black Mirror kids space natural history stoner blaxploitation biography DC Universe Winners Drama Emmys Lifetime Christmas movies Rocketman anime A24 canceled Sundance TV Amazon Prime Video composers Premiere Dates Musicals First Reviews CBS game show FOX Box Office Anna Paquin OneApp zombies Emmy Nominations game of thrones DirecTV blockbuster witnail spain archives Turner screen actors guild Western revenge comic books Warner Bros. CBS All Access Rocky Photos Bravo Mindy Kaling Comedy Central mockumentary Travel Channel Reality Competition Cosplay 72 Emmy Awards Tomatazos Super Bowl Spectrum Originals cartoon television rotten movies we love See It Skip It Syfy 2019 VH1 YA based on movie FXX PaleyFest cars Video Games Disney Channel ABC Rock Paramount Network Discovery Channel Disney talk show Tarantino black Vudu Adult Swim MCU facebook universal monsters mission: impossible IFC breaking bad Crunchyroll french Country 24 frames Extras Paramount Classic Film zombie Red Carpet documentary Logo movie E3 true crime concert TruTV Grammys strong female leads Women's History Month Heroines The Arrangement Trophy Talk movies Nat Geo quibi E! 2017 Song of Ice and Fire Showtime A&E 4/20 directors BET Awards Trivia Dark Horse Comics reboot cults CW Seed Musical indiana jones medical drama TCA Winter 2020 halloween Academy Awards franchise Podcast 2020 TLC australia Animation halloween tv Tumblr binge Quiz GoT book Watching Series Mary Tyler Moore Best and Worst Kids & Family serial killer Lifetime Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt LGBTQ BBC One toronto children's TV period drama Sundance satire films supernatural hispanic HBO Max Masterpiece tv talk sitcom japanese boxing BET APB Epix Comic Book cancelled New York Comic Con singing competition teaser cancelled TV shows Music technology best Universal Pirates child's play psycho Lucasfilm cops science fiction dramedy Turner Classic Movies Calendar Nickelodeon BAFTA spider-man sequels Infographic Creative Arts Emmys ratings 45 renewed TV shows criterion Film festival Marvel Television FX on Hulu Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Summer Arrowverse BBC America asian-american scary movies TV renewals Marvel GLAAD discovery Spring TV disaster finale Ghostbusters elevated horror deadpool DC Comics