1 Updates
House of Cards: Meet Frank Underwood, TV's Next Great Antihero
Photo Credit: TV Guide

House of Cards: Meet Frank Underwood, TV's Next Great Antihero

Feb 1 2013, 5:39pm CST | by

TV's next great antihero won't be on HBO, the cable network that introduced us to Tony Soprano. He also won't be on FX or AMC, the homes of Vic Mackey, Don Draper and Walter White. In fact, he won...

Filed under: news

YouTube Videos

 
 
 

1 year ago

House of Cards: Meet Frank Underwood, TV's Next Great Antihero

Feb 1 2013, 5:39pm CST | by

House of Cards | Photo Credits: Netflix

TV's next great antihero won't be on HBO, the cable network that introduced us to Tony Soprano. He also won't be on FX or AMC, the homes of Vic Mackey, Don Draper and Walter White. In fact, he won't be on TV at all.

That's because Frank Underwood, the ambitious U.S. Congressman played with a biting Southern drawl by Kevin Spacey on House of Cards , is trying to do for Netflix what his morally gray forebears did for their respective networks: put them on the map as a home for great serialized drama. Photos: Check out 16 other bad guys we root for Much ink has and will be spilled about the risky gamble Netflix is taking getting into the original series game. Unlike the online streaming service's other buzzy launch — the long-awaited revival of Arrested Development House of Cards doesn't have a ton of built-in fan loyalty, even if you include those few viewers who fondly remember the 23-year-old British miniseries upon which this new project is based. And yet Netflix has reportedly spent $100 million and made an unprecedented two-season commitment to land this big fish, executive-produced and stylishly directed by Hollywood heavyweight David Fincher and written by Ides of March scribe Beau Willimon.

The good news is this: All the money is on the screen. The well-written and expertly nuanced performances are all beautifully shot. But is this high-quality project the next generation of TV? No and yes. In the early episodes critics were able to screen, the story — Spacey's Underwood is passed over for a Cabinet appointment he'd been promised and vows to ruin the newly elected President because of the betrayal — seems like it would be at home on a cable network. His marriage to Claire (Robin Wright ), a power-hungry Lady Macbeth type, anchors the show's treachery in a strong, if unorthodox love. With her support, Frank cozies up to fellow lawmakers just before he secretly skewers and discredits them in the press via Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara ), an eager young journalist willing to sell her soul to Frank for the juicy stories he wants her to print. What is next-gen, however, is how Netflix wants viewers to consume the content. (The entire first season is available now .) "We aspire to create shows that you can't get enough of, shows so rich and so consuming that you lose yourself in them," Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told reporters at the Television Critics Association conference last month. "We are programming for the On Demand generation. They will tell us how many episodes they want to watch. They are going to tell us what time to watch them, and they are going to tell us what device they want to watch them on." Winter Preview: Get scoop on more of the must-watch new shows Indeed, Spacey says the binge-watching phenomenon is part of the reason he became interested in considering TV projects. "If you ask anybody now, 'What'd you do over the weekend?'  they're like, 'Oh, I stayed in and watched three seasons of Breaking Bad,'" he tells TVGuide.com. "Now audiences are incredibly drawn to complexity and to long plot lines and arcs. ... I had an incredible decade of work [in film] in the '90s, and then things began to shift a little bit — the emphasis is on different kinds of films. So it's made sense to me that you've watched over these last 10 years more and more actors, writers, directors starting to say, 'If we're not going to get a chance to explore these kind of themes or characters in film, then television is a great place to land.'" Even though he's not "on" TV, Spacey's power-hungry Underwood feels right at home in today's television landscape. The audience's introduction to the character is perhaps darker and more nihilistic than almost anything you ever saw on The Sopranos. There is one difference, however: While Frank is performing this potentially off-putting act, he's explaining his worldview directly to the audience — that is, to the camera. There is a lot of voiceover in House of Cards.

"I think it's a strong choice.  It's certainly unorthodox," Willimon says of breaking the fourth wall, which is one of the aspects he chose to retain from the original miniseries. "When your hero or antihero speaks directly to the audience, suddenly they become active participants as opposed to passive observers. It almost forces them to have an opinion. And sometimes their opinion conflicts with their expectations." Spacey likens the experience to Shakespeare's Richard III, which he recently played in a globe-trotting production. "I had the experience in 12 cities around the world.. [of] looking in people's faces and discovering the relish and the glee and the kind of excitement that an audience has about being let in on something that they don't think anybody else is being let in on," he says. Hot! Hot! Hot! Check out winter TV's sexiest eye candy Naturally, Frank's corruption spreads. Peter Russo (Corey Stoll ), a loutish third-term Philadelphia congressman who's an embarrassment to his party, becomes Frank's first pawn on the Hill. He also ensnares Zoe, who uses Frank's leaks of key pieces of legislation to go from gossip blogger to front-page star.

And at first blush, Claire, who runs an altruistic clean-water nonprofit, seems to be nothing more than a very supportive wife. But she has her own agenda. "To be powerful you have to be feared, and what does that entail, to be the feared? You have to annihilate everybody else to gain another rung on the ladder," Wright says, sounding very Macbeth-like herself. "That's just classic laws of war. It's old, it's archaic, that tenet. That is what Francis has built and we are part of it together."

Although Willimon insists he's not trying to paint everyone in Washington with the corruption brush, he does argue that, unlike our nation's current Congress, Frank gets things done. "[Do] I personally want to see more Francis Underwoods in Washington? That's a tricky question," Willimon continues. "I, just like anyone, abhor a lot of the things he does, but I appreciate and respect his own personal honesty. There's something refreshing about the character who says, 'I am unapologetically self-interested. I want power for power's sake. I'm not going to try to hide that from you and what I offer you in return is progress. This is what effectiveness looks like. Decide for yourself whether you condone or condemn the way in which I achieve progress.'" Whether or not Netflix's big bet on House of Cards indeed creates a new definition of what TV will be in the future, Willimon has created a character that celebrates the villains of the past and will certainly strike a chord with viewers of television present. "I don't know what that is that draws [us] to those people," Willimon says. "But if I had to speculate, I would say they give us permission to indulge in the darker aspects of ourselves that we simply can't sustain in our everyday lives. ... We all have some of that darkness in us, and when we get to see a character who engages in that sort of behavior to the extreme, they're doing for us what we can't do ourselves." All 13 episodes of House of Cards first season are available now on Netflix .

View original House of Cards : Meet Frank Underwood, TV's Next Great Antihero at TVGuide.com

Related Articles on TVGuide.com

Other Links From TVGuide.com

Source: TV Guide

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/8" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Luigi is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at ml@i4u.com. Luigi posts regularly on LuigiMe.com about his experience running I4U.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Most Popular TV Series of 2014
Most Popular TV Series of 2014
The most popular TV series released in 2014 include such incredible shows as True Detective and Fargo.
 
 
True Blood Arrives in its Wacky, Sexy Final Season
True Blood Arrives in its Wacky, Sexy Final Season
The vampire series True Blood has arrived in its wacky final season. Director Stephen Moyer and his wife Anna Paquin, who played Sookie, also pose 'Nude' for the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
 
 
Game of Thrones: Maisie Williams Discusses Last-Minute Changes in Season 4 Finale
Game of Thrones: Maisie Williams Discusses Last-Minute Changes in Season 4 Finale
Maisie Williams, who plays Arya in The Game of Thrones recently discussed some last-minute changes in the popular series.
 
 
Matt Lauer Extends Agreement to Host NBC&#039;s &quot;Today&quot;
Matt Lauer Extends Agreement to Host NBC's "Today"
Matt Lauer has signed an extension deal with NBC to stay as host of "Today" show.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

$4 mn for flood-hit northern Slovakia
Bratislava, July 29 (IANS) Slovak government approved Monday a total of 3.06 million euros (over $4 million) in financial assistance for flood-hit Vratna Valley area in Northern Slovakia. A total of 2.42 million...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Keith Harris lost $12 million fortune
London, July 29 (IANS) Entertainer and musician Keith Harris lost an $11.9 million fortune because severe dyslexia didn't allow him to understand the contracts he was signing. The 66-year-old, best known for his...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Tarantino geared up to direct 'The Hateful Eight'
Los Angeles, July 29 (IANS) Celebrated actor-filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has decided to go ahead with "The Hateful Eight" despite the fact that its early draft of the screenplay was leaked. The "Pulp Fiction" director...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kutcher-Kunis to wed in July next year?
Los Angeles, July 29 (IANS) Actors Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, who are getting ready to welcome their daughter, have begun to plan for their wedding. "The wedding will be next July. They want to focus on their...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Lady Gaga portraits auctioned
New York, July 29 (IANS) Pop star Lady Gaga's "video portraits" raised over $1 million at an auction at Watermill Center here. Director Robert Wilson put on display "23 Video Portraits of Lady Gaga" series at his...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kim Kardashian followed by 'crazy driver'
Kim Kardashian claims a ''crazy driver'' followed her around Los Angeles today (07.28.14). The 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians' star hit back at rumors she was pulled over by police officers in Calabasas, California,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Elizabeth Banks is 'very genetically blessed'
Elizabeth Banks says she is ''very genetically blessed.'' The 'Hunger Games' actress, who has sons Felix, three, and Magnus, 20 months, with husband Max Handleman, insists she only recently realized she is attractive,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Courteney Cox receives engagement gifts
Johnny McDaid and Courteney Cox received several engagement presents in his native Northern Ireland. The newly-engaged couple were given complimentary souvenirs by excited fans in the city of Derry while exploring the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis to wed next July
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are planning to get married next July. The couple, who got engaged earlier this year and are expecting their first child, have reportedly set a date for their wedding next summer, as they...
Read more on Celebrity Balla