You guys. YOU GUYS. Before I had Orange Is the New Black hooked up into an intravenous drip that went straight into my carotid this summer, there was House of Cards. Season One was good, y’all—so good that I had to ration episodes for myself so I didn’t just watch it all at once and wake up blinking with no friends and no job. (Sound familiar?) It may not have had demonstrations of love via hurled baked goods, but it did have every kind of intrigue you can think of.
Kevin Spacey stars as Francis Underwood, a powerful congressman who—NO, WAIT, STAY WITH ME, IT’S REALLY GOOD—is so royally pissed off by a slight from the President that he’s ready to destroy, well, pretty much everyone he can think of to get his revenge. But Underwood is no brute who bashes around harming people openly; he prefers to keep his hands clean and his reputation sparkling. Which means he likes to corner and cat’s-paw people around him into doing his dirty work, sometimes without them even realizing it. You’ll see political intrigue, marital intrigue, friendship intrigue, sexual intrigue, manipulation of both open channels of information and gossip, guilt, shame, rage, good in the service of evil, and a firm hand controlling it all, pulling off mind-blowing maneuvers.
In short, it’s a lot like a party with that one group of secretly terrifying friends you swore you were going to stop hanging out with, or at least stop making out with, or at least not quite so late on weeknights. All Season One of House of Cards was really missing was some women kissing women.
Hel-LO, Season Two trailer!
It’s easy to assume that Netflix noticed that Orange Is the New Black had, um, one or two fans who seemed to like the show pretty okay and thus threw in a couple of women kissing as girls-who-like-girls bait. But I suspect they’re actually going to handle this pretty well. For one thing, Season One did relationships in general really well. It recognized that there are all kinds of people who get together and break up for all kinds of reasons, and that a lot of those reasons are pretty messed up. (Told you it was like one of those parties.) The characters are believable and complex, and they get attached and petty and even noble on occasion, but they never get boring.
The second reason I think this will be good is that Season One handled female characters really well. They’re ambitious and usually smart, and they’re much more than just prizes or sounding boards for men. Spacey got a lot of well deserved praise for his work in Season One, but if you ask me, it’s Robin Wright as Claire Underwood who does the truly stunning work on the show. She’s constantly revealing new layers, and at least twice she made my spine freeze. Claire is a completely compelling character with still-untapped depths and a rock-hard core somewhere in the center of them. I can’t wait to get to watch her again. Even though the moment when she says, “Let’s make him suffer” in the trailer suggests that we may all be watching her through our fingers while balled up in the fetal position.
And on a purely practical level, the show understands female pleasure. Like, acknowledges that it happens and that it doesn’t have to come from a penis inside a vagina and everything. And a woman can have some without being immediately punished, though Shesus knows not many people escape punishment of some sort on this show, even if they haven’t done anything.
I do not think for one second that House of Cards will feature a healthy, stable lesbian relationship. But I do think it will show one that will be crazy fun to watch.
Get your catching up on Season One done and your Valentine home and happy early—House of Cards premieres February 14 on Netflix.