As television continues on this upwards streak towards greatness, replacing movies with mini series and cable with Netflix, we’ve been introduced to a myriad of new social structures, including the idea of the modern marriage.
No longer is it man at work, woman in the kitchen. It's more woman at work, man in someone else’s bed. No matter what you’re watching, there’s always something going on behind the familiar doors of wedlock. In the case of “House Of Cards,” it’s really the first relationship we’ve ever seen in which both husband and wife turn a blind eye toward infidelity and evil in the name of respect and personal motive.
With the excited release of the second season of “House of Cards,” as Francis reclaims his power as vice president and Claire begins a strong flirtation with a young new employee (intern? assistant?), we’re reintroduced to a marriage that’s pretty revolutionary, immoral or not.
Label them as you see fit -- immoral, dysfunctional, blind, naïve -- but Claire and Francis are progressive. They have a modern relationship -- the type of relationship we, ourselves, are moving towards -- where marriage is more of a partnership than a love affair. It’s two people who respect and love each other to a point where goals and aspirations are put before interpersonal progressions. The heart of the relationship is rooted in respect and admiration, even if that respect isn’t shown in the traditional sense.
When Francis cheats on Claire, she turns a blind eye, recognizing that hurtful as it was to her, it was helping his career. Of course, she retaliated by spending a weekend with her former lover, which Francis also ignored (in the process of breaking a rowing machine), because he needs her as much as she needs him. He overlooks her flaws, her deceit, because he deserved it. The two share the same bed, knowing it’s been shared by others, yet sleep soundly knowing their dreams are secure.
So, as f*cked up and shallow as their relationship seems, I must ask, is it really that dysfunctional? In my scorned opinion, molded by high divorce rates and cheating 20-somethings, I can’t help but think that infidelity is inevitable and marriage should be redefined as a partnership more than anything else. If men are destined to wander, why expect anything else of them? Why go on with the illusion that they will stay faithful? Why expose yourself to a lie only to fall beside it?
While Claire and Francis may lose our respect in the fidelity category, what they lack in monogamy, they make up for in unwavering support, displaying another aspect of marriage we haven't seen in a while: true partnership. The two entered into a relationship knowing what they both wanted and agreeing they would both help each other attain those goals.
They express an unwavering loyalty to each other in respect to each other's aspirations and desires. They gave up many personal and traditionally important aspects of a real marriage, like children and fidelity, to attain those goals. Their marriage isn’t one based on traditional motifs, so why should it be judged by those standards?
They are the support they can’t get anywhere else. They are the each other’s one true fan, cheerleader and unwavering supporter. They’ve replaced fidelity with real devotion and accepted that certain aspects of their relationship must be foregone in favor of others in a modern marriage.
Photo credit: Netflix/House Of Cards