Are You Watching the 2016 Presidential Election Coverage or House of Cards? What’s the Difference?

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains plot details from Season 4 of the Netflix original series House of Cards.

Last week, after months of nail-biting anticipation, the most awaited and detested presidential campaign of 2016 finally began—Frank Underwood’s! That’s right, in the fourth season of House of Cards released Friday on Netflix, the equally beloved and despised Frank Underwood hits the campaign trail, and I’m happy to report that he’s as despicable as ever. Season 4 also brings back some familiar faces.

Netflix has become a strong competitor with other major networks when it comes to original series, and it’s because they continue to deliver exactly what fans want. For House of Cards fans, that’s drama, deceit, political corruption, and controversy. And although I did binge-watch my way through this season (yes, I know it’s only Wednesday), I won’t spoil it for you—there’s really no need to when so much action was packed into the first few episodes.

Right off the bat, viewers are reunited with disgraced journalist Lucas Goodwin, who we last saw in Season 2 maneuvered into jail for attempting to investigate Frank Underwood. Fresh out of prison, Lucas restarts his crusade to expose Underwood for the corrupt, murderous politician that he is. But, as the show’s history has shown, luck is not on Lucas’s side and he’ll soon have to resort to extreme measures if he wants to avenge the death of journalist Zoe Barnes, who was notably pushed into an oncoming metro train by Underwood at the beginning of Season 2.

I think what most of us really want to know is a question lingering from the end of Season 3: Did Underwood’s wife Claire really leave him? While it would make for a juicy story, I wasn’t surprised to find that she hadn’t. After all, the Claire we all know and love could never pass up an opportunity to exploit her husband’s presidency for power. And, really, what would Frank do without her? She’s the Bonnie to his Clyde.

Most of all, I commend the show’s writers for the portrayal of the presidential race, which at times mirrors reality, confronting hot-button issues also addressed in the current US presidential race (yes, believe it or not, the antics of Trump, Cruz, and Co. are real) like gun control, abortion, terrorist threats, and religion. Unlike Donald Trump (who seems to think he’s divine) Underwood can’t give a campaign speech without mentioning God. It’s also pretty scary to consider that Underwood treats his opponents with more respect on stage than most of the current men running for the Republican presidential nomination.

And that leads me to the biggest takeaway—or the one big, sad realization. US presidents used to be depicted as heroes in film. We used to see them as strong leaders who, even with unstoppable power, were upstanding figures. Now that idea is somewhat laughable. Our highest leaders have lost so much trust from the American public that it’s more believable to associate them with villains. Sadly, the current presidential race only confirms this observation, although more transparency, as pursued by dedicated journalists like House of Cards’ Lucas Goodwin, can help enlighten us to the realities of the people we elect to power.

I think those are enough details for now. The season’s intensity only escalates with each new episode. So whether you’re gearing up for some serious binging or would rather take your time and savor each episode, you’ll not be disappointed.


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