I remember ending the last blog post I did on the House of Cards in the hope of Claire Underwood becoming the President (or the series becomes worthless). For combinatoric reasons (#Metoo related complete exit of Spacey and the scope for a better story) that did happen in season 6. However, to me, the resounding hollowness of the previous seasons just maintained their echoes. Despite quite a topical angle (autocratic, criminal-minded, unpopular and almost unqualified president) with a defiantly combative edge of feminism-taken to the other end of the spectrum- of the powerful, I am so glad there are only eight episodes of over-the-topness to get through.
*** SPOILER ALERT***
I see this season doing real well with the right wings, ultra right wings and MAGA supporters, after all: they will see what can happen once a white woman, openly feminist, uses her pregnancy to gain sympathy and gets rid of all her enemies under the guise of progress. And that is my problem with this season. What it should have been is a controlled rendition, albeit reversing the sex of the autocrat, of the current state of affairs since it is clearly inspired by it. How it doesn’t matter who, what color or sex the dictator is: and how to spot one. Show that dictators will use whatever they can, even their own pregnancy to get what they want. What I got however was how manipulative women can be, and for that you can presumably just watch a season of Real housewives (am I right?).
The pervasive problem of American shows is exactly this: maintaining only a superficial semblance to anything real. As soon as the link to real life is established, the hyperbole takes over to the extent that the whole thing becomes a parody, in season 6 it was Doug Stamper’s insistence on clearing the dead Francis’s name via a posthumous presidential pardon. In addition to the family melodrama of the powerful Shepherd sibs, where the son- shown to be a ruthless techie, on top of spying apps and clandestine deals, having an emotional collapse on account of being adopted. Okay, it wasn’t a collapse, but it was still pretty silly.
As Claire went back to her maiden name (good call in the script) and is mind-gaming all her adversaries with virtually no help needed or provided, one after the other people drop dead to help her. No, she doesn’t kill her husband, or almost anyone. We find Jane (her advisor)and Mark’s (now Vice President) characters being frustratingly moral, which also I can abide because after all, these two were never politicians and do understand that a global system needs to be maintained. If not of peace, then of some form of ‘stable catastrophe’ so that people can continue to make money. Jane helps Cathy (ex-Sec of State who was pushed down the stairs by Francis Underwood because she happened to be not quite so bent) escape, Mark seems to always be regretting his decisions of trying to control Claire, despite his loyalty to the Shepherds for whom he actually works. Annette Shepherd (quite a good performance by Diane Lane) being mostly controlled by emotions (some rivalry followed by anger-revenge), as far as I could tell anyway. As for her brother, he was one of the weakest links, in addition to the superbly vacant Doug Stamper storyline.. The performances are great, as usual. I am just so underwhelmed with the storyline! Psychotic or not, I just can’t buy Doug’s story.
Again Robin Wright can do anything. Her poise is enough to kill people, I tell you. But not one complain about being on stilettos all day? Not one bad hair day either. Who wrote this thing???
Ultimately in this season and the show, it is her innate glory that incites the loyalty of every one to keep watching, or killing (as it happens) that keeps the show going. Sadly, loyalty is not my strong point. And like the real feminists of Claire’s all female cabinet, I didn’t sell my logic to the highest bidder.
(the trial in the title was an afterthought, the trial was the show making an attempt to show the dark side of feminism, not a good attempt)