Written by Eleanor Thom

Arts

A Love Letter to House of Cards

Ruptured ovarian cysts rarely have a silver lining as gleaming as the one Eleanor Thom has identified. She’s put the fourth season of House of Cards to bed in two days. She bloody loves that show.

Kevin Spacey in House of Cards. All photos: Netflix.

Kevin Spacey in House of Cards. All photos: Netflix.

I have been laid up for the past couple of weeks recovering from a ruptured ovarian cyst. Nice times. BUT the silver lining, the beautiful light at the end of the tunnel and the joy of its timing is that Netflix have just ‘dropped’ a sweet 13 new episodes of House of Cards.

And what’s even better is my diary was cleared anyway so I don’t have to come up with excuses like ‘Sorry I can’t make your child’s christening, I’m absolutely swamped with the new series of House of Cards.’ I get to block-watch like everyone else wishes they could; but they have lives to get to and jobs to do. Even with the best intentions, they’re unlikely to be able to squeeze in more than three of an evening, and that’s with propping up the iPad somewhere near the cooker and taking it to the bathroom when they wee.

Robin Wright as Lady MacUnderwood.

Robin Wright as Lady MacUnderwood.

I have watched the whole series in two days. Sure, there have been points when I ask myself in a strained voice, ‘What is wrong with you?’, and then calmly (as though reassuring a child), ‘Nothing’s wrong with you, it’s perfectly natural, it’s a brilliant, well written and structured series with beautiful costumes and cinematography.’

And it’s clever this show, and even better, it believes we are too. There’s no ‘previously on House of Cards…’: you have to pay attention.

I love the theatrical way it can break the fourth wall as and when it chooses, talking to us in soliloquies and then flowing back into the scene with no problem.

I could go on and on about the script; how it’s witty and economic and vivid. All the parts are in sync – the way it’s shot, directed and edited. Most importantly (and unusually in our sad quest for speed these days in drama) it’s allowed the space to breathe on a silence or a moment, and it’s so wonderful for it.

The flawed characters you still love somehow despite their despicable behaviour and the twists and surprises. The complex, successful and interesting women and BAME actors filling the screen, playing against the stereotypes and representing themselves, not their marginalised group. Yes please, MORE OF THIS PLEASE!

I am also slightly in love with Robin Wright. It’s perfectly normal to have looked up what makeup she uses isn’t it? And to have scoured the internet for what brand her glasses are in season three? And then spend hours researching and buying the frames and then taking them to the opticians for the right lenses? Yes it’s totally normal.

I should savour it for all the reasons above, but it’s the TV equivalent of eating a block of halloumi; you intend to pace yourself, but you end up consuming the whole thing at once. And what’s worse/brilliant is Netflix lets you do it. It’s an addiction.

House of cards posterAs an adult there is no parent saying, ‘at the end of this episode it’s bedtime’. I make deals with the parent voice in my head: ‘If I brush my teeth, then I can watch one more in bed.’ Oh, the joy it brings when you break the rules. It plays into every childlike and convenient impulse that I don’t often give into in the rest of my life; the parent voice usually wins on chocolate, coffee and cigarette consumption but not on block-watching.

And if you haven’t seen it, I’m ‘well-jel’, as you still have such delight to come.

Meanwhile, I, after the grief caused by its ending has subsided – this is an actual thing by the way: it’s called The Void – will have to compensate with other programmes to binge on – much of its content inferior to this masterpiece of drama, until next year (or truthfully until later this year, when enough time has passed and I will rewatch it, obviously).

@eleanorthom

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Written by Eleanor Thom

Eleanor is a comedy writer/actor and founder of award-winning sketch group Lady Garden. She can often be seen performing as Bev: a vivacious, deluded blonde from Sheffield with dreams of becoming a full-time vocalist.