Written by Ruth Bratt


Cards on the table

The third series of House of Cards appears on Netflix tomorrow. Ruth Bratt can hardly wait.

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

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

I love House of Cards, even though I’m turning into my mother and have called it variously “Game of Cards”, “House of Thingy”, and “that Kevin Spacey one”. I haven’t yet inadvertently made it into a porn film, as my mother did with “The Girl With The Pearl Necklace”… But anyway, it’s brilliant and here’s why.

It’s a remake, but it’s as good if not better than the original.

The British TV series, with Ian Richardson and the one who played Jane in Pride and Prejudice (Susannah Harker), was broadcast in 1990. I remember watching it and loving it. It was slow and stately, but vituperative and conniving and eventually truly shocking. The first series consisted of four episodes. If anything, the US version is a little slower – the shocking end of the original doesn’t happen in the first series’ 13 episodes. I was gutted that it had, seemingly, wussed out, but then BAM! Second series – it happened! And it just keeps on going.

Intricacy and boldness

So much happens in every episode, you can’t take your attention off it for a minute. If you do lose attention for a second (to ask for a cup of tea or something) you either have to rewind, or spend the next half an hour in a fug of joyous confusion and lack of understanding. I spend a lot of my time in the latter state. But, like politics, a lot of it is just talking and jockeying for position and power and using really dull statutes and bills to do that. It’s bold to make a TV show that relies on the dullness of passing bills for a large proportion of its action.


Politicians. Urgh!

Politics is AWFUL

That’s what I’ve learned. EVERYONE is awful, even the ‘goodies’ are awful. Everyone is there for their own gain and furtherance and if they do some ‘good’ while being a shit, then that’s OK. But they are all AWFUL. Even the journalists who are supposed to be investigating things are pretty dreadful and self-serving. But the politicians. Urgh. I mean, Frank Underwood is a Democrat, right? He should be all liberal and fluffy, but he’s awful. Which brings me to the next reason to watch…

Frank Underwood.

I’m not a massive Kevin Spacey fan – take him or leave him – but Frank Underwood… He’s appalling, but you can’t help but want him to win. You want his sneaking, his underhand tactics, his lies and his murderous ways to work for him. He’s the ultimate flawed tragic hero and I can’t imagine this will end well. But he is supported by the tremendous…

Robin Wright as Lady MacUnderwood.

Robin Wright as Lady MacUnderwood.

Robin Wright

Wow. She’s basically playing Lady Macbeth, the cold power behind the throne and she’s incredible. She’s as conniving as her husband and will do anything for him. They love each other in the most disturbing way, but it is genuine love. And Robin Wright is such a class act. Icy, controlled, and so, so classy.

Just watch as Claire Underwood gives an interview (I won’t say what about, spoilers and that). It’s a masterclass in acting. Because you can’t see her acting. I have a massive crush on her. She even made me think about going running. I haven’t been running, but I seriously thought about doing it and that is quite an achievement. Well done Robin Wright.

Kevin Spacey’s accent

It’s really satisfying to hear and really satisfying to imitate. One of the reasons we often have to rewind an episode is because we’ve been saying: “Well, ah’m a bumchucker, and ah do so lurve riiiiibs” to one another for about 10 minutes. I’m not sure what it means, but it makes us laugh, and gets us through any longueurs where they’re talking about politics.

If that doesn’t make you want to watch it I don’t know what will. How about this: you can binge watch or spread it out over weeks, because they release the whole series at once. I love that. It means if we have a day off, which is rare, we can watch loads of them, though our slightly addictive personalities mean that often we say, “Just one more?” when we know we should go to bed or we’ll regret it in the morning. We have to have a vice now we’ve given up drinking and it seems that binge watching Necklace of Thrones is it. Start from the beginning and enjoy. Joyous trash, masquerading as serious political drama. What more could you ask for?


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Written by Ruth Bratt

Ruth is an improviser, comedian, actor, writer and the short half of double act Trodd en Bratt. She is rapidly becoming a middle class cliche who likes to bake and knit. Ruth is in Showstopper! The Improvised Musical currently in Edinburgh and about to embark on a West End run. www.theshowstoppers.org