It seems as though the television landscape has become increasingly cynical, or at least as far as Washington is concerned. Idealistic shows like The West Wing have been replaced with jaded programming that seeks to paint Capitol Hill in either darker, more sinister colors – as in House of Cards – or lighter, absurd tones, like in Veep.
Netflix’s new series House of Cards is a clear attempt to craft a show to rival broadcast favorites like AMC’s Mad Men or HBO’s Game of Thrones – or anything HBO has produced, for that matter. While many broadcast networks seek to produce reality television, talent contests, or chipper comedies, cable networks – most especially the aforementioned three-letter networks – have hollowed out a niche in high quality programming that focuses on character development and period set-design, achieving a result closer to film than traditional television. And in most ways, House of Cards is a fitting entrant to the ranks.
There is a great metric by which companies’ success can be measured. Effectively, if the name of a corporation’s good or service becomes interchangeable with the product category as a whole, the company’s product – or at least its marketing – is probably pretty successful. Older examples would be the use of the word “Xerox” as a verb, or “Kleenex” as a catchall for tissues. In our generation, the use of “Google” as a verb is likely the best example.