House of Cards
By Kari Croop,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Compelling take on politics plays up sex, drugs, scheming.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show's overall mood is dark, and the series suggests that politics is a dirty, dirty business. Revenge and retribution are recurring themes.
Positive Role Models
The main character is a master manipulator with few scruples when it comes to political ambition. He surrounds himself with people who help him take others down.
Violence & Scariness
In the first episode, a central character mercilessly strangles a dog to death after it's hit by a car. Throughout the series, that same character murders people he thinks will get in his way. The deaths are shocking, but not bloody.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters have sex, although sex acts aren't gratuitous. Partial nudity includes exposed breasts. There's a threesome between characters, but the sex is off-screen.
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Audible language includes "f--k," "prick," "whore," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Occasional product name-dropping of brands like "Starbucks," etc.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of social drinking; a secondary character regularly uses illegal drugs like cocaine and pot.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that House of Cards (which stars Oscar winner Kevin Spacey) plays up the dark side of national politics with recurring themes of revenge and retribution. Audible language includes strong words like "f--k," along with "prick," "whore," etc., and there's also some simulated sex and partial nudity, including exposed breasts. Many characters drink socially, many times as a stress reliever, and some secondary characters have drug (cocaine, pot) and alcohol problems. Most of the "violence" is tension that bubbles just below the surface, although death (and even murder) isn't unheard of.
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House of Cards
Based on 11 parent reviews
Politics Is The Game
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Extremely overrated drama is only for teens
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What's the Story?
When he's passed up for the top cabinet post he was promised, powerful Minority Whip Rep. Francis "Frank" Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his wife (Robin Wright) launch a revenge scheme of Machiavellian proportions against the president (Michael Gill) and his unsuspecting underlings. But carrying out his plan to topple them all like a HOUSE OF CARDS requires help from an eager young reporter (Kate Mara), who's just hungry enough to take the bait.
Is It Any Good?
Hardcore Netflix users might already know that House of Cards is based on the BBC miniseries of the same name (which, in turn, was based on a novel by British politician Michael Dobbs). But while the British series centered on Conservative Party politics in the post-Margaret Thatcher era, the U.S. version transplants the action to modern-day Washington, D.C., during the term of a Democratic president.
So what's the verdict? With its second original series (the first being Lilyhammer), streaming content provider Netflix delivers an effectively addictive political drama with movie-quality storytelling and A-list casting. (Not to mention A-list director/producer chops, thanks to the presence of The Social Network's David Fincher.) The series' exclusivity to Netflix subscribers means it's not easily available to a broader audience. But in our opinion, it's compelling enough to deserve one.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about House of Cards' take on national politics. Is it positive, negative, or somewhere in between? How close do you think it comes to portraying the way things really get done in Washington?
What role does the media play in American politics? Do you think it plays too big of a role? How has the rise of various technologies -- from television to Twitter -- affected the way we pick and choose our politicians?
How does House of Cards compare to the tone of other shows set in Washington, including Veep, 1600 Penn, and The West Wing?
- Premiere date: February 1, 2013
- Cast: Kate Mara, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-14
- Award: Golden Globe
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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