How Donald Trump ruined House of Cards

Donald Trump has ruined a lot of things for me: hair, red hats, existing in general. But in the wake of Trump’s victory, commentators have missed a major aspect of what ‘The Donald’ has destroyed: Netflix’s hit show House of Cards.  

Those not familiar with House of Cards should be aware that the show revolves around Francis Underwood, a savvy political operator, determined to seek the highest office in the land by any means necessary. Of course, the biggest barrier to Underwood is the inevitable political scandal lying just around the corner waiting to undo him. In House of Cards, the political scandal is every politician’s bane.

So, what should we make of Trump’s ascendency to the White House, a climb that was riddled with political scandal? From denying that John McCain was a war hero (something you would think a Republican base would hate), running a university issuing worthless degrees, to numerous allegations of sexual assault – no scandal seemed to create the slightest dent in Trump’s poll numbers. Trump himself said at a rally in Iowa that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters.”

The potential blow that could be dealt by a scandal to Francis Underwood is somewhat tempered by the fact that we know that real scandals may not necessarily bring down a politician, a la Donald Trump.

Adding to the difficulty of reconciling House of Cards with the current political climate is the fact that the show is an examination of the ‘establishment’ and its ability to manipulate politicians to its own ends. While both Bill and Hillary would fit nicely into the House of Cards’ Machiavellism of the scheming establishment, Trump does not. Both the Republican and Democrat establishments heavily resisted him, to the extent that the Republicans even formed the ‘Never Trump’ movement, while the Democratic establishment conspired to ensure Bernie Sanders would not defeat Hillary Clinton.

House of Cards’ entire premise revolves around the establishment. The fact that in the real world Trump, an outsider, crushed it, demystifies the immense power and insurmountable nature of what Francis and Claire Underwood are a part of within the show.

Perhaps we not only live in a post-truth world, but also a post-scandal world. Whether that is the case, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright certainly have their work cut out for them in series 5 of the programme

Pulp Editors