House of Cards: Season 5 created by Beau Willimon (Media Rights Capital, Panic Pictures, Trigger Street Productions, Netflix)

Starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Derek Cecil, Paul Sparks, Jayne Atkinson, Boris McGiver, Neve Campbell, Joel Kinnaman, Dominique McElligott, Damian Young, Campbell Scott, and Patricia Clarkson.

A Witty Header Discussing Our Current Events

Well. Our political climate is something. Given my age, my awareness of political administrations runs three deep.

Of course, the more recent the administration, the more I’m aware of political strategy, messaging, and foundational beliefs. So, for purposes of this review, let’s set aside Mr. Clinton.

Defining an Administration

The juxtaposition between Bush and Obama illustrates stark contrast. Bush operates through the next-door-neighbor brand. Setting aside conversations about the quality of his run as president, his aimed persona focused on the neighbor that wanted what was best for the community and could probably tell a good story over a beer at the local dive bar.

Obama on the other hand legislated as the philosopher king. His brand focused on a learned and strategic approach. In communication, he felt like a professor walking a student through a specific position. While that erudite view of the world might alienate, he couples the approach with a cultural savvy that suggests he’s just an Everyman.

Administration Defining Television

Externally, the experiences of society as a whole shape our views of an administration. In that way, one can look at a television series as an adjacent window into the cultural milieu to which the President supports.

Many critics have suggested 24 as defining show of the Bush administration. An unfiltered look at Terrorism blended with a character focused on doing whatever it takes to keep the country safe. In the wake of 9/11, 24 represented a quasi-escapism that somewhat centers society with so many scary “others” out there.

Likewise, I’ve seen Parks and Recreation suggested as the Obama-defining show. Emerging when the nation faced possibly a long, uphill economic battle, Parks and Recreation offered an optimism that as long as we have each other, despite our various cultures and beliefs, we would be stronger together.

A Trump-Adjacent Show?

I set up these illustrations to suggest the Trump administration, while early, represents a stranger-than-fiction element to the discourse. What might a Trump-adjacent show cover? How would it look? How would a show depict his ethos?

For many popular politically-based shows, the question is difficult to answer. In particular, Veep and House of Cards have veered from a heightened satire of politics to an almost tamed version of reality.

In this season of House of Cards, the parallels get too close for comfort. The viewer encounters Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) openly combatting senators and congressional leaders. His administration faces ethics scandals and endless hearings. Impeachment is in the air. And let’s not forget, an election is happening, with hackers doing their best to get the Underwoods back in office.

Of all the political shows, House of Cards was always the most far-fetched; remember, the last season ended with Frank working magic to get his wife, Claire (Robin Wright) on the ticket as the Vice President. And yet, the continuous leaky faucet in real-life Washington suggests a reality closer than most would like to admit.

Unfortunately, House of Cards—possibly sensing the need to go further—throws out all logic by the end of this season.

The best years of House of Cards have long since passed. The only remaining question: will this show come to represent the Trump administration as 24 and Parks and Recreation have done for past leaders of the free world?

Verdict: 2 out of 5

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