Spoilers ahead for House of Cards!
House of Cards returned for its fourth season on March 4, making for no better time than now to talk about just what makes it so eminently watchable. When it first aired back in 2013, no one was sure just how viable the “Netflix Original Programming” idea was, with many skeptics holding the opinion that a streaming service simply didn’t have the resources to produce quality television. What we got though swayed even the most stubborn of critics. House of Cards quickly made itself into not simply one of the best shows from a streaming service, but one of the best on television period.
For anyone not caught up, there are a few key reasons to spend the next few days marathoning through. Once the new season hits Netflix in its entirety on March 4, we’ll all have plenty more binge-watching to do.
1. Playing the long game
House of Cards is a show that isn’t scared to have its audience wait for its gratification. The series kicked off with one singular event: Frank Underwood being passed on for Secretary of State. The ensuing three seasons have been Underwood’s carefully calculated revenge playing out over 39 episodes. Little by little, we’ve seen his plan unfold, taking down those who wronged him one by one until no one remained atop the mountain except for Frank Underwood himself. For House of Cards, revenge really is a dish best served cold.
2. Rooting for the villain and loving it
Anti-heroes are a large part of our entertainment culture nowadays. Even our superheroes have complex and sometimes flawed motivations. That complexity has become almost a necessity for any good TV show. But with Frank Underwood, we have ourselves a straight-up villain. Entirely self-serving, he’s willing to climb over anyone and everyone who gets in his way. But no matter how much we try as an audience, we can’t help but root for his success, no matter how evil and twisted he gets.
3. This is a show that would make Shakespeare proud
From the commitment House of Cards has to monologuing, to its complicated web of characters and relationships, the show feels like a modern Shakespearean drama. The way Underwood turns and faces the camera to speak to the audience makes it feel more like a play than a TV show, building a relationship between the main character and viewers that contemporaries couldn’t hope to duplicate. Existing in a series of acts, the story itself has a resemblance to political dramas like Macbeth and Hamlet in both its styling and plot.
4. House of Cards is the first show of its kind
Before House of Cards, there was nothing out there quite like it. Sure, Scandal‘s been around network TV since 2012, but that show’s more of a compartmentalized serial than a stretched out story. This one’s a one-of-a-kind unicorn of a show, standing atop the hill of shows produced by streaming services. Other offerings like Orange is the New Black and Amazon’s Alpha House have seen similar success, but in terms of looking for something you simply won’t find anywhere else, House of Cards stands alone.
5. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are reason enough to tune in
Incredible writing and directing give House of Cards its powerful story. But the true mastery comes in the delivery of this story from Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright’s chemistry, as Capitol Hill’s most terrifying power couple. Both characters possess their fair share of skeletons in the closet, but together they’re unstoppable. Throughout the show, they’ve had their disagreements, and even with the two splitting at the end of the last season, their dynamic is still a driving force.
6. House of Cards is the most binge-able show out there
How many times have you tuned into a show on network TV, only to be left wanting more once the credits roll? Netflix solved this problem by releasing every episode of each respective season in one fell swoop, allowing us to marathon through in a single sitting. For shows as addicting as House of Cards, this is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, once an episode ends, the party starts up again in mere seconds. But this only lasts so long, leaving many of us to experience the new season in a matter of days, instead of the months through which a normal show would run. Its compelling plot and cliffhanger endings leave us constantly wanting more, making it well worth the wait between seasons.