It's been a long road for House of Cards, the series that put Netflix on the map for prestige dramas in 2013. But after six years and some administration turnovers, President Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, has exited stage left, and his wife Claire, played by Robin Wright, has stepped up to the desk she always deserved to sit at more than he did. The new House Of Cards Season 6 trailer arrived this week, and though it did not give away any spoilers, it did hint at how Spacey's character was removed from office.
Fantasy stories about the White House are usually a reflection of their era. For instance, the scandals of Bill Clinton and the hard right turn under George W. Bush gave rise to Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing, a story of a liberal president who always did the right and moral thing. Under the leadership of Obama, a president who spent eight years presenting himself as trying to do the right thing, House of Cards came along, depicting Underwood as an immoral and evil figure, willing to lie, cheat and murder his way into power.
Under the newest administration, Season 5 was panned by critics, who noted the show's fantastical underhanded plots paled in comparison to the scandals of the real world. Perhaps it's not surprising then that House of Cards pulled an about-face for its final year, to hand us the opposing fantasy where "the reign of the middle-aged white man is over."
Claire still isn't any better than her husband. She also has no problem playing down to the patriarchy's expectations of a female leader when it suits her. "I lost my husband, we were about to celebrate 30 years together." As if viewers would believe she grieved for more than it took her to get over the shock of it. She also uses Frank's death to her advantage to get out of some of the deals made which he probably never planned to follow through on anyway. After all, his was a different administration.
It's notable the trailer does draw parallels to the real world, accusing Claire of acting like a gangster instead of a politician, a charge which has been leveled at the current commander in chief. This may be a fantasy where a woman has finally taken the seat of power, but she still lied, cheated, and killed to get there.
There is one other notable change with the death of Frank. It seems Claire is now the fourth-wall breaker of the series. The show, very luckily, first established her doing so at the end of Season 5, after five seasons of Frank being the one to do so. It seems Season 6 not only put Claire Underwood in charge, but she's also the viewer's confidante for the final episodes.
"It's going to be different for you and me,' she says at the end of the clip. Without a doubt, it will be.
House of Cards' final eight-episode season arrives on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, on Netflix.