I was originally excited to start the process of the blogging for Mass Media because I’ve always pretty good at writing and have always been commended for my writing abilities on papers. I assumed that this skill would naturally carry over into the blogging process and it definitely did not. Through this process I quickly learned how much more difficult it is to write something formally, but not too formally, and sound educated, which is how I think of successful blogs or ones that I enjoy reading. It is still really difficult for me to write something without it sounding like an essay, but still getting the point across. I enjoyed the process, but it was very anxiety provoking for me, which came from the fact that there is a sense of vulnerability connected to the process of blogging, possibly because it allows for more opinions and more personality along with whatever the topic being discussed is. That being said, having option one and posting weekly, as opposed to binge watching House of Cards, created a bit more pressure because each post was shorter and more frequent.
Besides the aspect of the blog and watching HOC week to week, I found that I had to take notes for myself while watching or else I would forget certain things that happened, something which I don’t believe would have been necessary if binge watching. For a show like House of Cards where a lot happens, characters are constantly backstabbing each other, and Frank is revealing himself more and more, I would prefer to binge-watch so everything would be fresh in my mind. Especially for the addictive world that HOC immerses the viewer in, the effect is felt more without the break in between episodes. I find this especially true for other shows I have binge-watched which create a fascinating world outside reality, such as Boardwalk Empire, because you can dedicate yourself to the world that is created and feel like you are experiencing it in real-time without the real-world interruptions. An important point that was made in Aaron Riccio’s article “Binge-watching makes TV better,” was that “The more we change our viewing habits, the more the networks will adapt to fit them, and the higher the level of long-term programming networks will have to provide, no longer spider-webbing up plots on the fly in an attempt to deceptively tangle us into tuning in next week.”¹ This point is something that bothers me about a lot of shows that are on cable, that the same storylines are recycled along with a cheap ploy to try to draw in viewers or whatever will create the greatest shock value they can think of, like killing off a main character. For Netflix to release HOC all at once makes a statement for how good the show is because there are no gimmicks involved, such as a weekly break with a teaser for the next week meant leaving viewers in suspense on whether or not the main character of the show will get killed or narrowly escape yet again.
When it comes to House of Cards as a show, I definitely fell in love with it. I appreciate the complex characters, especially Claire, from the beginning of season one to the end. By the end of season one Claire was so much more than the cold-hearted witch she seemed to be in the first few episodes. Over the course of the first season we see Claire struggle with herself and the two men that she loves, the desire to finally have children, and be respected as the head of her organization, making her anything but a one-dimensional character. Most of these personal struggles Claire faces come about because she is constantly trying to be strong for Frank and his plans for the two of them, but her desires to be happy as a woman who is also independent continuously come back to haunt her. Basically, she struggles with being a woman in a man’s world. This element of the show of which other female characters could relate to as well, including Zoe in trying to make it as a journalist and Linda asserting herself in Washington. In an interview, Robin Wright described her character of Claire Underwood as “…a marble bust, you don’t know anything about her, she’s an enigma – she, the woman, is going to start to crack through this marble, she’s going to emerge, and that fascinated me.”² I can’t imagine a better description of Claire and it is why the character is so fascinating to watch. Frank is constantly talking to us when “breaking the fourth wall,” but I can’t help but imagine a world in which we would get this input from Claire instead. I understand that it wouldn’t be the same because getting into Frank’s head tells us details about many other characters and their motives. I still always want to know what Claire is thinking, which I feel is part of her allure.
Another aspect of the show that I find important is the fact that it takes the characters beyond such stereotypes that could make the show boring. Nothing is black and white when it comes to the characters and their motives, so the show creates a richer experience because there isn’t always the typical “good guy” or “bad guy.” Frank Underwood is a clear example of this because you either love him or hate him, but if you hate him I can’t imagine how you could continue watching the show in general. Frank does some downright evil things throughout the show, but I still find myself rooting for him no matter how many lives he ruins. At least when Frank does something terrible, it is completely understandable why he would, especially because the audience gets more insight into his head than with most other shows. Frank is troubled on the inside and he has such a thirst for power that it is practically all he lives for, but his genius and charm of being able to deceive everyone around him is part of what is so addictive about the show. The title of the show basically foreshadows how it will end, yet I still am dying to see what happens and how this “house of cards” that Frank has built, will ultimately come down.
I suppose after being introduced to House of Cards this semester, I only have one question…
Is it February yet?…
¹ Riccio, Aaron. “Binge-watching Makes TV Better.” CNN. Cable News Network, 06 Feb. 2013. Web. 01 Dec. 2013. <http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/06/opinion/riccio-binge-tv-watching/?hpt=hp_c3>.
² Jeffery, Morgan. “Digital Spy.” Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK, 25 Jan. 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2013. <http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/interviews/a452966/robin-wright-house-of-cards-qa-its-definitely-fincher-esque.html>.