The Fall of House of Cards

On January 6th, 2015, I was on an airplane headed from Seattle to Tokyo Narita International airport then, after a layover, over to Singapore. It was the longest of the three flights me and my family had to take in order to move to Singapore. My younger brother Nicholas sat beside me—asleep—and I felt like doing the same. But what was playing on one of the seats in front of me caught my attention. I noticed an actor I knew, Kevin Spacey, arguing with what I thought to be his wife and it got me interested. I watched for a little while, waiting for the assumed-film to end so I could see the movie title that he was watching. Then I saw it: House of Cards.

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Kevin Spacey, as Frank Underwood, sitting in Abraham Lincoln’s chair at the Lincoln Memorial

From that moment on, I was a House of Cards fan. I quickly watched the first two seasons in time for the third season to come out because I did not want to be left out. I’ve watched every other season at immediate release ever since. I’ve loved coming back every season, waiting for every twist and turn to come my way. I cried when Zoe Barnes and Edward Meechum died. I celebrated when Frank took the presidency. This show, about lies, deceit, scandal, sex, and power, is honestly among the best piece of television I have ever watched.

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Edward Meechum, the ever faithful Secret Service agent who took a bullet for Frank during an assassination attempt that might have just saved Franks life.
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Zoe Barnes being pushed in front of an oncoming subway train, in the most shocking death in House of Cards to date

Frank Underwood, the main character, would be the villain in any other show, but this isn’t any other show. What House of Cards does so perfectly is that it makes you root for the villain from the very first episode with his twisted ideology. In the shows first five minutes he chokes a dog to death that just got hit by a car because its pain is a “useless thing.” Now in any other show, this would make the general audience hate him immediately, but there’s a certain charisma to the way Kevin Spacey portrays Frank Underwood that makes you like him. Then you get to see the problem he is facing, he supported a man named Garrett Walker for the presidency on the promise that Frank would be made his secretary of state. Garrett went back on his offer after he won the presidency claiming that they needed Frank in Congress or it would bean ineffective presidency with an unbudging Congress. Frank made it his personal goal from then on to bring down the Walker presidency and take it for himself.

Frank was a ruthless man in the show, and he is played by an, until recently, much revered and far-from-ruthless acting talent. Kevin Spacey is a very famous man, delivering memorable roles in Baby Driver, The Usual Suspects, and Superman Returns. He won two oscars, most notably for his incredible portrayal of the victim of a suburban midlife crisis in American Beauty.

More recently, his legacy has taken a critical turn. In October, Anthony Rapp, a Broadway star, accused Spacey of sexual allegations when the younger actor was just 14. Spacey invited Rapp to his apartment, then, later on in the night, picked him up, placed him on his bed, and got on top of him. Rapp left the room immediately but the incident was enough to open a chain of events and accusations that have forever altered our view of Kevin Spacey.  Anthony Rapp said in a tweet:

“I came forward with my story, standing on the shoulders of the many courageous women and men who have been speaking out to shine a light and hopefully make a difference, as they have done for me.”  — Anthony Rapp, Actor

It has been 31 years since the inciting incident,  \but this story (admittedly re-energized following the Harvey Weinstein Scandal which involved more than a dozen women accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment) marked the beginning of the downfall of Mr. Spacey and speculation as to the continuation of his current blockbuster, House of Cards.  This article inspired more victims to identify an increasing number of men of men in power who had made sexual harassment or abuse the norm in their day-to-day dealings.  Anthony joined the #metoo movement by making the allegations against Spacey. Spacey claimed he did not remember the incident but he was deeply horrified by what he read. He also came out as gay in the same tweet which sparked more anger as people think it was a ploy to distract from the real story of sexual predation and assault on a minor.

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Anthony Rapp (on the right) accused Kevin Spacey of sexually molesting him when he was only 14 years old.

Production on Season 6 of House of Cards stopped soon after so the executives of Netflix and the show could meet with actors and staff could meet up and discuss how they felt working with Spacey again. Six men came forward stating that Kevin made unwanted sexual advances towards them on set. Netflix then decided to cut all ties with Kevin Spacey, firing him as the producer and lead actor of the show. They also canceled the film that Spacey was making — Gore — based on the writer Gore Vidal’s life.

I, as a fan of Kevin Spacey’s, was shocked and disheartened to hear of these allegations. I have always looked up to him in his work and always enjoyed his acting. Of course, the response of Netflix and the producers was necessary and justified, as this kind of behavior is unacceptable no matter how powerful you are. House of Cards may be the best show I have ever watched but the support of victims and justice towards the aggressor is more important.

The #MeToo movement which sparked Rapps shocking allegation has grown in considerable size ranging from James Franco to Sylvester Stallone to Stan Lee to Michael Douglas. While many of these allegations are widely assumed to be true, we must not allow a trial-by-media (and speculation) to take place. Most of these accusations do not have any tangible evidence other than a testimony by the victim to support their claim.  Yes, these alleged incidents are horrible, and should not happen again.  Still, conducting trial-by-media is equally wrong.  An innocent victim might be judged, in this day and age, by Facebook and other social media news-providers who have a tendency to be unreliable in their factual reporting.

I do not know how House of Cards will continue without its lead actor. I have faith that the show will find its footing. Kevin Spacey has been nominated for five Emmys for his role, though he ultimately lost to Bryan Cranston, Jeff Daniels, Jon Hamm, Rami Malek,  and Sterling K. Brown. His leadership in this series is flawless and noteworthy if his personal life has not been. The Underwood character could give Deadpool a run for his money by his sheer wall-breaking skills. Even though they didn’t realize it at the time, the show’s writers had been setting up Claire (played by Robin Wright) to take on a significantly more powerful role and, in a noteworthy production approach, they allowed her character to break the fourth wall and address the audience as a major player in the fourth and fifth seasons.

A new promo has surfaced showing Claire, the new president, in the lead role. I am excited to see Robin Wright step into the spotlight as the lead, but am frustrated by the assumption that, with Spacey’s termination, many cliffhangers from last season concerning his character will never be resolved. According to the producers, many spinoffs are in the works, one including my favorite character, Doug Stamper. I am sad to see my favorite show take a dark and twisted turn, but I do hope that this last season debuting in the Fall of 2018 will continue in its former greatness—Spacey or no Spacey.

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New promotional material for the last season of House of Cards, excluding Kevin Spacey

Author: Ryan Deguire

Ryan Deguire is a first year reporter of The Eye. He is a Junior at SAS and has been here for 2 and a half years. He is the son of a Platoon Sergeant in the U.S. Army and has lived in six places including Singapore. He enjoys watching movies, videochatting with his friends in San Antonio Texas, and playing with his puppy Kaya. He can be contacted at either rymater2000@gmail.com or deguire48003@sas.edu.sg

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