Are you ready for the House of Cards shared universe?
Yesterday Netflix announced they will wrap up their flagship show, House of Cards, after its upcoming sixth season. House of Cards fans shouldn’t fret over the announcement. For a moment it looked like Netflix was closing the door to the show’s cutthroat political world after lead actor Kevin Spacey’s departure. But in a move right from Spacey’s crafty House of Cards character, Francis Underwood’s playbook, when Netflix made the announcement they already had a contingency plan in place.
According to Variety:
The streaming service [Netflix] and producer Media Rights Capital are in very early stages of development on multiple ideas for a potential spinoff. One concept revolves around Doug Stamper, the political aide-de-camp played by actor Michael Kelly in the first five seasons of the political drama, with Eric Roth set to write.
The key takeaway here is “multiple ideas.” Netflix is in a similar situation to HBO who is also dealing with their most popular show, Game of Thrones, coming to an end. And rather than letting the property run its course, HBO also has multiple concepts for Game of Thrones spinoffs in the works. Competition in the television arena is as fierce as it’s ever been and studios would rather stick to producing programs based on hot commodities rather than original, untested material.
Even with the allegations against Spacey, there are many reasons why Netflix doesn’t want to end the House of Cards brand. House of Cards is the program that ignited the streaming TV series revolution, it’s considered prestige television, and the show consistently earns praise during awards season. And above all else, House of Cards is still one of Netflix’s flagship shows.
Variety is also reporting that, “At least two other spinoff ideas are also being explored, though writers have not yet been attached to all of them,” and that, “All the potential series take place in the same universe as “House of Cards.” The plans for these spinoff series have not been impeded by the sexual assault allegations against Spacey and sources are stating that season six was already intended to be House of Card’s final season.
There are plenty of interesting roads for writers to go down with a House of Cards spinoff. The show could follow another backstabbing, power-hungry, Machiavellian politician, in the early stages of their career — perhaps from a woman’s perspective this time — as they cut down everyone in their path and ascend to higher positions of political office. The show could also take a page from the excellent 1972 Robert Redford movie, The Candidate, which is about a hopeless US Senate candidate whose morals start to erode amidst his pursuit of office. The spinoff could even step away from politics and focus on reporters uncovering stories of corruption.
We’ve already encountered characters like Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) and Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) who fit these types of molds, so spinning House of Cards off into shows about characters with similar archetypes would be in step with the established world.
There is a popular saying that “The truth is stranger than fiction” and this statement aptly describes the current political landscape. I’m going to keep an open mind regarding new House of Cards programs and assuming they remain focused on politicians, I look forward to seeing how they continue to aggrandize, deconstruct, and satirize politics.