With all the seismic political events here and around the world, it’s no surprise there are a lot of fans of the Netflix original series House Of Cards out there; and with more than our fair share of hipsters and self-proclaimed pundits, some of us even swear by the original British version. From seasons one to five, the political drama became the ultimate revenge fantasy for us viewers as we watched how antihero Frank Underwood schemed his way to the presidency after being slighted by those whom he thought were his allies.
Unfortunately, after Season Five, the proverbial house of cards crashed down on the show’s lead star, Kevin Spacey. With allegations of sexual assault from multiple parties, including Anthony Rapp at the height of the #MeToo movement, the show was forced to jettison Frank Underwood, which, thankfully, wasn’t such a tall order as Claire Underwood became president by the end of Season Five, giving the writers an easy out to quietly write off F.U. and instead refocus on his equally scheming and arguably more capable wife.
Unfortunately, the final season didn’t quite accomplish that, as it stumbled majorly along the way, leaving longtime fans and even forgiving ones such as the writer of this list majorly disappointed. If you have plans of bingeing House of Cards Season 6, be warned that THERE WILL BE MAJOR SPOILERS HERE. On the other hand, if you’ve already seen the final 8 episodes of the show, then let’s talk about the many ways the show failed to deliver what should have been a satisfying ending, even without Kevin Spacey in the picture.
They couldn’t move past Kevin Spacey
Yes, Kevin Spacey is one of the best actors of all time, easily in most people’s personal top 20. But then, not only are his co-stars more than capable of holding their own, none of them are facing possible criminal charges for sexual assault. Despite this fact, the writing simply could not let go of Frank Underwood, making his overwhelming presence felt on the series more than ever in his absence, as every single plot thread seemed to go through him, rather than move on from him.
At its most egregious, this show, instead of being the story of Claire’s rise to power and proving to everyone she’s the real enemy to be worried about, became how large of a shadow the death of Francis Underwood left on the entire country, and by extension, the departure of Kevin Spacey. The show itself became a clumsy meta-narrative of course-correction in the face of a wayward captain who just needed to go, but everyone couldn’t stop talking about him as they tried to navigate their way back to their destination.
Here’s a variation on the Bechdel test: watch the show, and look at any two combinations of characters and see if these characters ever interacted throughout the season without ever discussing Frank Underwood. You’d be surprised to find next to none.
They never got around to showing why Claire wanted the Presidency
Exactly what did Claire Underwood gain from becoming President? Power? Power to do what? What is her accomplishment in office? She’s not just enriching herself in corruption deals here, so what’s going on, really? Why would she need the presidency to pull off anything she wanted? Why would she want to hold onto the presidency at all costs if it’s doing her no favors in the first place?
Because Claire’s motivations for becoming President are unclear, it doesn’t seem convincing that she should want to hold onto the position so cravenly. It almost feels like she has better things to do than that.
They ended up wasting a lot of great new characters on a whole load of nothing
Joining the original cast were Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear, both stellar actors. Instead of enriching the world of the House of Cards universe, these two characters pretty much became de facto adversaries for Claire because we couldn’t get the Claire vs Frank showdown we all wanted before Kevin Spacey did himself in. As stand-ins for Frank, the Shepherds simply weren’t anywhere near the same league as the Underwoods.
One of their key characters stretched all believability
There’s loyal as a dog, and then there’s loyal as a Doug. Doug Stamper, the former chief of staff of Frank Underwood, is so obsessively devoted to Frank Underwood that it stretches the limits of anyone’s suspension of disbelief, to the point that a confrontation with Claire inevitably lampshaded just how preposterous said devotion is. It just made for a very disturbing scenario that held no suspense because as good as Doug is, Claire was always better.
There is no cathartic comeuppance for the Underwoods
Frank Underwood died, but not in a way that would seem like poetic justice. Claire Underwood, on the other hand, seems untouchable while she’s accomplishing zip in the oval office. So what gives? What’s the moral of the story here? That sometimes, things just go the bad guy’s way? Even those tales have a deeper story to tell. This one just seemed to give up mid-stride.
There is no sense that they got away with it all brilliantly, either
So yes, they pretty much got away with it, “it” being a whole load of nothing. Imagine being two successive Presidents of a superpower like America, and ending up with next to nothing to show for it. No money, no significant accomplishments, no legacy, no nothing. Just some big asterisks next to your names in the history books.
They never let the ViClaire ship sail
Viktor and Claire. The OTP that never came to be. These two just have so much more chemistry than Claire and Frank ever had, yet no, their ship was denied. How could they?!?
The ending felt anticlimactic, with so many loose ends still untied
As you look at the final scene, realizing that’s the culmination of six years of supposedly meticulous writing, all you could think is, “where did this go wrong?” Surely, this season could have been written better if it just pretended Frank Underwood never existed? Surely, this season could have turned out better if it focused on Claire Underwood wanting to accomplish something during her term? Or maybe these journalists finally caught on to Frank’s crimes, and that Claire was complicit behind all of them? But nope, none of that was the case, as the final season seemed little more than a whodunit to Francis Underwood’s death, which was the last thing this show needed.
What do you think of the series? Tell us below!