American TV show “House of Cards” has also been a hit in France and Germany. I needed time to warm up to it, but I’m now hooked on political drama series. But, why is “House of Cards” so successful outside of the US?
A few days ago, I watched the last episode of the last season of “The West Wing.” I felt almost desperate once I was done. What should I watch next when I have to fold the laundry?
Everyone was talking about “House of Cards” when I arrived in the US in 2013. But, when my husband and I tried to watch the first episode, we didn’t connect at all with the story.
At the time, we hadn’t been exposed to political drama series while living in Germany or France. In fact, later in 2016, the French HBO (Canal+) launched a political TV show called “Baron Noir.”
According to The Guardian, “‘Baron Noir’ is cracking fun—a proper grownup drama with the bite of ‘House of Cards,’ the grandstanding rhetoric of ‘The West Wing,’ and even the odd moment of ‘The Thick of It’ farce.”
I haven’t watched “Baron Noir” yet, but I’ve heard positive feedback from friends. I guess the show must be successful since the second season is being filmed in France right now.
4 reasons behind the success of “House of Cards” in France and Germany
“House of Cards” is also successful in France and Germany. Here are some of the reasons behind the show’s strong reception:
– “House of Cards” is entertaining. It’s about American politics, so the fascination that the US exerts on the world certainly plays a role, but the plot is so cynical that it also probably matches the public’s prejudice. According to a 2017 French survey, 74% of French people think that politicians are corrupt and not trustworthy!
– In Germany, “House of Cards” contrasts sharply with the late evening political talk shows. The Goethe Institute talked once about their inflationary format: “The discussions and debates are all over television now, [but] there is no clear differentiation or profiling of the programs. It is all a reproduction of the same model.” I couldn’t agree more; “House of Cards” offers something totally unique compared to the rest of German television.
– Quality has a price! The first two seasons of “House of Cards” cost $100 million. This hefty tag highlights the A-list cast (e.g. Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright) and an Academy Award-nominated director (David Fincher).
– Finally, House of Cards benefits from the new streaming format. Being able to watch episodes in succession and without waiting a week between installments certainly contributed to the show’s success in France and in Germany.
What’s next for Catherine?
So, what should I watch now while doing the laundry? “Veep” sounds like a good alternative, but I don’t get HBO at home. I still have the sixth season of “Scandal” waiting for me. Perhaps I should give “House of Cards” another try? It’s just that I don’t really feel like watching Frank and Claire Underwood…
First of all, political life in America has been entertaining enough since last November. Second, it seems to me that reality has actually caught up with fiction. Season 4 of “House of Cards” ended with the threat of a new world war, which thankfully is fictional for now.
In the real world of September 2017, if North Korea is able to launch a long-range nuclear missile, it could land on Washington. I don’t really like to spend much time thinking about that possibility, so maybe “House of Cards” isn’t the best show for me to watch now—too somber, too cynical, and maybe a little too close to reality.
I spent the last two years folding my laundry in front of TV shows streamed from Netflix and Amazon. I started with “The Americans,” then tried “House of Cards” before moving on to “Scandal” and finally “The West Wing.”
All these TV shows take place in Washington DC, and it’s always fun to watch the city on TV when I live so close by!
But, most importantly, these shows helped me gain a better understanding of the American political system. For example, “what is a whip” was my first query on Google when watching “House of Cards.” On “Scandal,” I also got a glimpse into lobbying. And, thanks to “The West Wing,” I finally understand the responsibilities of the Chief of Staff.
Which show should I watch next? I’d love to hear your recommendations. (Perhaps I should just delegate the laundry folding to somebody else!)