Right about now, I hope someone is slaving away at their desk writing a comparative analysis of David Fincher premieres in the last two weeks—Netflix’s House of Cards series and Justin Timberlake’s brand new music video for "Suit & Tie." Yes, the video is finally here. We reported a couple weeks ago that Fincher would be directing J.T.’s latest track featuring Jay-Z, the first single off his fresh return to music with The 20/20 Experience. Floating somewhere between the slick and meticulous world of Fincher and a fancy vodka commercial, the video is shiny and suave—of course. J.T. eats cereal (or soup) while chillin with Jay, then hits the stage to showcase his smooth moves, interspersed with shots of a lingerie-clad lady writhing around. We’re into it.
[Ed. note: on Monday, our frequent contributor Jolie Kerr sung the praises of House of Cards, the David Fincher-directed series that is single-handedly proving the success of Netflix and internet streaming. But our other frequent contributor Miles Klee is not buying it.]
No no no no. No. Do not do this to me, America. Do not believe the hype. Do not line up to watch the first and ideally last season of this show in one sitting. Re-watch a show you already know you like, I’m telling you. Take up knitting. Whittling. Anything. Just step away from the screen. I’d never normally say it, but you deserve better than this.
You can get your political intrigue elsewhere! Hell, stream Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth before you watch Kevin Spacey mercy-kill an injured dog on a Georgetown sidewalk whilst soliloquizing in formalwear. Rip through The Thick of It or Veep and get a superior satire of government that’s also funny. Read just about any book featuring Richard Nixon: it will be both more incredible and more relevant.
HoC, it would seem, has it all—decorated actors, fearless director, a poster that’s very Mad Men circa season three—everything but a glimmer of entertainment value. It’s not even as good as Lilyhammer, Netlix’s first flop of a foray into original programming, which once you get past the god-awful setup actually earns its mobster-out-of-water storyline. If this overnarrated mess takes off, it will prove nothing but the marketability of “[blank] of [blanks]” titles.
Holy mackerel, is House of Cards ever great. Overblown, overwrought, soap opera-esque at times, it still manages to offer up enough political dialogue and stunning business attire to keep from insulting its viewers. Kevin Spacey’s Shakespearian asides to the audience—and even the inclusion of Kevin Spacey doling out Shakespearian asides in and of itself—are mostly absurd, but then he drops a perfect eye-roll in your lap and all is forgiven. Shakespearianishly.
Robin Wright, looking unsettlingly like Ur-mommyblogger Heather Armstrong, is sublime as Spacey’s icy cold wife. Kate Mara as a social media-savvy political reporter Zoe Barnes—and even the inclusion of a social media-savvy political reporter in and of itself—is excruciating. Mostly because her presence allowed for terms like "Twitter twat" to be bandied about and DO NOT WANT EL OH EL. Looming over them all is Kevin Spacey at his most Kevin Spaceyest as Congressman Francis Underwood.
And oh my God the echo joke. (Oh my God the echo joke.)
Muchhas beenmade of the decision on the part of Netflix to dump all 13 episodes on its audience at once, hoping to capitalize on what’s been dubbed the binge-style viewing habits of subscribers to the streaming video service. Time will bear out the relative strength or weakness of the strategy, but from where I’m sitting it sure does look to be slam dunk. Because holy mackerel, is House of Cards ever great. So great that in spite of having a heap of weekend chores and brunch with friends, I still managed to clear out thirteen hours to blow through the entire series. On Saturday, I stayed up well past my bedtime, so hooked was I, and woke up with a violent House of Cards hangover on Sunday morning. I figured a little hair of the dog was what the situation called for and fired up another episode while I drank my first cup of coffee. On Sunday night, when the closing shot of the final episode startled a loud yelp out of me, I immediately went back to the first episode and began House of Cards Binge Two: The Shuffling.
Now I need you all to go watch the entire thing so we can dissect every detail and so you’ll understand about that echo joke. (That echo joke.)