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

tv talk 4/20 theme song based on movie Cannes new star wars movies legend Christmas Starz GLAAD TCA Awards video on demand game show Box Office Sci-Fi science fiction TBS Election 20th Century Fox classics saw casting 2016 Drama Trivia nature 2021 Pride Month MCU ghosts worst live action Rom-Com Mudbound LGBTQ Country sag awards movie video Oscars Hallmark Christmas movies Pop TV talk show pirates of the caribbean Awards docuseries adventure HBO Max Adult Swim comiccon Chernobyl NYCC DGA FXX Comedy NBC Rocky archives space rt archives name the review Emmy Nominations zero dark thirty south america Superheroe 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards A&E BBC America chucky joker rotten El Rey high school sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sequels festival telelvision Animation superman universal monsters CW Seed romantic comedy Reality Competition Pixar Winter TV nbcuniversal Calendar BBC WGN Disney Channel boxoffice cinemax Video Games die hard technology Turner Classic Movies RT History Kids & Family Vudu AMC disaster obituary TV One Countdown President VOD transformers ABC Signature 007 japanese new zealand cartoon Fox Searchlight child's play Star Trek Sony Pictures History all-time superhero Spike basketball binge streaming movies PaleyFest free movies zombie canceled TV shows Comics on TV PBS OneApp TIFF diversity Sundance Nickelodeon Year in Review satire Peacock Pacific Islander Creative Arts Emmys television Horror Trailer cancelled TV shows USA Broadway Quiz Fox News Image Comics 2017 jamie lee curtis APB Women's History Month Martial Arts HBO Go streaming documentaries Television Academy elevated horror San Diego Comic-Con spinoff E3 halloween Bravo game of thrones Super Bowl SXSW Syfy LGBT Brie Larson 21st Century Fox spanish language Pet Sematary Character Guide Lifetime Christmas movies E! strong female leads Comic Book Photos Awards Tour WarnerMedia Trophy Talk IFC indie VH1 medical drama anime Biopics Teen dragons Apple Ellie Kemper Pop Walt Disney Pictures golden globe awards films australia animated prank Summer See It Skip It 24 frames BET Awards Universal monster movies teaser Rock social media razzies Tokyo Olympics VICE Tumblr CBS All Access james bond cops Mystery 72 Emmy Awards fast and furious witnail Acorn TV Podcast Exclusive Video Marvel Sundance TV Polls and Games Opinion DirecTV dc spider-man First Look Spring TV asian-american The Witch hollywood Lionsgate scorecard Amazon Studios olympics ID international Reality CNN aliens Schedule Tarantino scary movies Shudder Superheroes psycho hidden camera Captain marvel cults laika Lifetime blockbusters adaptation MSNBC screen actors guild what to watch rotten movies we love mockumentary dark BBC One Fall TV composers Toys TV movies cancelled Writers Guild of America DC Universe GIFs Fantasy Mindy Kaling travel parents 99% Epix GoT YouTube christmas movies Legendary golden globes Spectrum Originals dogs Family dramedy blockbuster canceled slashers 90s Tubi suspense Disney 2018 facebook war Grammys romance fresh quibi Baby Yoda Ovation Paramount Plus The Walt Disney Company hispanic Paramount Network werewolf TCA 2017 supernatural movies Stephen King women rom-coms historical drama Avengers scene in color Film concert IFC Films emmy awards SDCC book Esquire Tomatazos Shondaland Emmys Certified Fresh Musical Netflix Red Carpet A24 award winner 45 Musicals Crunchyroll OWN Amazon Prime king kong TV foreign Amazon PlayStation FX BAFTA Comic-Con@Home 2021 king arthur breaking bad comic books crime drama biography MTV Disney streaming service Extras news toy story singing competition thriller Holiday renewed TV shows screenings vampires Black Mirror TruTV Turner Star Wars Comedy Central period drama series Paramount serial killer spanish Hear Us Out ABC Family TNT franchise justice league comedies Pirates ABC cats zombies italian TV renewals The Purge Anna Paquin versus HBO stoner latino Winners godzilla Interview Film Festival natural history boxing miniseries BET batman Dark Horse Comics worst movies Apple TV+ jurassic park cancelled television finale 2015 revenge cancelled TV series police drama Funimation Travel Channel doctor who Classic Film cooking Black History Month Western Watching Series comic kaiju Holidays nfl 93rd Oscars Disney+ Disney Plus Amazon Prime Video Heroines political drama New York Comic Con psychological thriller The Walking Dead Cartoon Network crime spain popular sequel Marathons Sneak Peek Britbox CBS 2020 reboot stand-up comedy new york documentary DC streaming service ITV Discovery Channel book adaptation Wes Anderson Elton John USA Network The CW FOX 2019 Rocketman robots Showtime ViacomCBS kong Set visit Food Network Mary poppins YouTube Red wonder woman true crime stop motion Sundance Now blaxploitation heist movie Academy Awards Disney Plus Masterpiece TCA Winter 2020 Best and Worst Mary Tyler Moore cars TLC reviews CMT Endgame 1990s National Geographic Infographic ESPN indiana jones comics french green book Music Hallmark Alien criterion target independent Ghostbusters Netflix Christmas movies marvel cinematic universe kids hist Cosplay venice a nightmare on elm street Arrowverse RT21 X-Men best richard e. Grant toronto TCM Valentine's Day FX on Hulu Binge Guide Lucasfilm Nat Geo anthology NBA Hulu Marvel Television Marvel Studios twilight deadpool crime thriller aapi adenture Action politics children's TV Television Critics Association 71st Emmy Awards remakes mission: impossible DC Comics Logo Nominations Chilling Adventures of Sabrina spy thriller Columbia Pictures YA black YouTube Premium The Arrangement football trailers unscripted First Reviews sports halloween tv critics Premiere Dates Song of Ice and Fire japan Crackle SundanceTV harry potter Apple TV Plus Warner Bros. docudrama crossover ratings TV Land TCA Thanksgiving dceu directors festivals discovery lord of the rings know your critic mutant American Society of Cinematographers Mary Poppins Returns Freeform The Academy