Fans of the scheming politician Frank Underwood will be hunched over laptops Friday for the season premiere of “House of Cards” on Netflix. The series follows a power-hungry U.S. senator, Underwood, and his increasing influence over his subordinates and the entire country. The show has proven to be a smash hit because of its portrayal of the seedy side of politics and the incredible performances by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
Until all 13 episodes are officially uploaded, fans will have to get their political thriller fix by streaming these similar shows.
House of Cards (U.K.)
“House of Cards” is actually a remake of a British political thriller. The two shows have significant similarities, including themes about control, power and ruthlessness. The protagonist of the original version, Francis Urquhart, is just as cold and manipulating as Spacey’s performance as Frank Underwood. His eloquent British accent makes him all the more chilling. If followers of the American adaptation want to understand the inspiration for Frank Underwood, there has never been a more perfect time to jump aboard.
The West Wing
The critically acclaimed “The West Wing” offers a cleaner, less cutthroat take on politics. The show follows the fictional presidency of Josiah Bartlet, who must serve his nation and guide it through contemporary issues that America faces — such as partisan struggles, social issues and threats to national security.
While the politicians aren’t as devious as those in House of Cards, the show features fleshed out characters who are enjoyable to watch. Those interested in political drama with a larger emphasis on policy will enjoy this serious, humanizing look at the executive branch.
While “Mad Men” doesn’t have much to do with Washington or politics in general, it still explores concepts such as hierarchy and power. The series features advertising executive Don Draper, who tries his hardest to climb the corporate ladder and become one of New York’s top ad men. Like “House of Cards,” “Mad Men” focuses on the back-stabbing that occurs in this highly-charged, professional workplace.
The series delves into the fractured psyche of its troubled protagonist, who frequently finds himself making amoral decisions in order to get ahead. With the second part of the final season airing in April, now is the perfect time to catch up.
Although “Scandal” offers a more melodramatic look at political controversy, it explores the president’s secrets and the skeletons in every politician’s closet. While protagonist Olivia Pope is definitely more heroic than Frank Underwood, she still deals with the sordid underworld that exists in any white-collar profession. The show might not be as polished as “House of Cards,” but it serves as a popular substitute to thriller junkies and a guilty pleasure to anyone looking to be involved in
business or politics.
Fans of “House of Cards” may be captivated by other series’ visions of the dark side of the political process, but none of these shows hold a candle to the menacing Frank Underwood, who will make his return Friday.