House of Cards: How Are Real Politicians Playing It?

House of CardsSeason Two of the critically acclaimed mini-series debuted just last month. The House of Cards has proved popular among both viewers and critics alike. All the “hoopla” it has generated raises an interesting question: “House of Cards: how are real politicians playing it?”

The series, centering on activities in the U.S. House of Representatives, stars Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, the Majority Whip Democrat from South Carolina. The series also features Robin Wright as his wife, Kate Mara and Corey Stoll. The show has received numerous nominations for Golden Globes and Emmy Awards and Wright recently received an Emmy for the “best performance by an actress in a dramatic television series.”

If Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) is any indication, the series is an unqualified smash in the Capital. “Looking forward to Season 2 of House of Cards,” he Tweeted, “wonder if I’ll make another cameo this season!”

Courtney isn’t the only one who wants to get into the act. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) and a few other members of congress made a video of themselves acting out lines from the series and placing it on Twitter.

House of Cards creator, Beau Willmon, received an email from Mike Lynch, chief of staff to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). In the email, Lynch told his old friend Willmon that he hears people talk about the show “everywhere he goes” on Capitol Hill.

The real House Whip, Steny Hoyer (D-MD), is also a viewer. When Kevin Spacey Tweeted the representative, asking why he didn’t attend the previous evening’s premier party, Hoyer Tweeted back that “a real Whip’s work” is never done. He said he had been attending to issues at a conference in Cambridge, Maryland, but, “Count me in for the season three premiere.”

The fact that House of Cards has tackled issues affecting real Americans strikes a positive note with Congressmen and women alike. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) Tweeted on the subject of alleged sexual assault in the military. “Fiction meets reality,” she Tweeted. “Reforming this unjust system is a must.” She referred to passing the Stop Act, a bill designed to curb military sexual assault.

There’s more to House of Cards and how real politicians are playing it. Not all comments have been positive. Representative Corey Booker (D-NJ) Tweeted he thought the series was less accurate than The West Wing, but a “tad more accurate” than the program Scandal RT.

Former House member Barney Frank (D-) is adamant in his criticism of the show, calling it “a cartoon version of congressional reality.” In an op-ed for the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, Frank also wrote that the House leader played by Kevin Spacey bears little resemblance to anyone he knew while in office.

Most comments coming out of Washington have struck a positive note, however. Perhaps the ultimate seal of approval came from no less than the White House. A Tweet from President Barack Obama’s official Tweet handle read: “Tomorrow @House of Cards. No spoilers, please.”

If nothing else does, that should settle the question of “House of Cards: how are real politicians playing it?”

B. David Warner



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