House of Cards starts off with a bang. Literally, it begins with a hit-and-run that left a dog dying on a sidewalk in Washington D.C.
The 2013 Peabody Award winner has continued to surprise its audience throughout the series’s run with distinct features few other television shows use well. Main characters Frank and Claire Underwood give the show a serious, aristocratic tone. Yet their piercing personalities are more alluring than off-putting to those who might not typically enjoy shows that center around politics. Stylistic elements such as Frank directly addressing the camera create a confessional, insider element that draws the audience into his story. Once viewers are hooked, details such as pop-up text messages make them feel as if they aren’st missing a single part of the narrative.
These aspects makes the show seem more realistic, almost like a reality show about politicians – except that Frank is the only one to step into the confessional room. Jayne Atkinson, who plays Catherine Durant in the series, touches on this aspect of reality in the post Peabody win interview. “We tell fictional stories that have some important resonance in the real world,” she said. “So we kind of feel like the kids watching the adults.”
Beau Willimon, the series’s writer and producer, further expounded on making the show entertaining while exploring the serious topic of politics. “We’sre entertainment people,” he said in the interview. “We’sre song and dance folks. Our chief goal is to give something to people that they find entertaining to watch. And to whatever extent we can dig into deeper things, whether it be the human soul or the political landscape, is great.”