flawless ladies: Vera Burr (Bomb Girls)
by David Shames
Frank Underwood likes to break the fourth wall. In fact, during season one of House of Cards, Frank Underwood breaks the fourth wall a lot. Sometimes he’s letting you know how he feels, other times he’s disclosing material non-public info to build dramatic irony. Always his fourth wall-breaking shows off a tongue so silver you could sell it at Tiffany’s. Couched in a Southern drawl, his words fly like daggers at his enemies (“They talk while I imagine their slightly salted faces frying in a skillet.”) and coin aphorisms for those trying to get schooled. One of these aphorisms primes an argument House of Cards fleshes out over the course of Season One. “Money is the Mc-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years,” according to Frank. “Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries.” So, if money ≠ power, what is power in the House of Cards? In David Fincher’s noirscape Washington, power is not the product of conniving political calculus. Power is simply the ability to make other people do what you want.
This take on power gets plenty of plot treatment. Skullduggery is the MO of almost every character on the show, save for a couple tragic and earnest types like the managing editor at the Herald who refuses to adapt to the digital age. And as hermetically sealed as the plot of House of Cards is, plot machinations are not what makes the show compelling. HoC gets its immediacy from its characters and the power dynamics shaping their relationships.
Nowhere are power plays more salient than in the show’s exploration of Frank and Claire Underwood’s marriage. When you look at Frank and Claire, you are looking at the archetype of the modern power couple. They both attack their work with a doggedness that makes you want to stop watching TV and get your life together. Such ruthless engineers of palace intrigue haven’t been seen since Macbeth and Lady Macbeth took Scotland as their own.
I love these guys too much for my own good.
I hope they didn’t tie up your hands as tight as mine
I’ll see you on the bed of this blue ocean babe sometime
saying ‘I love you’