House of Cards

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
House of Cards TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Compelling take on politics plays up sex, drugs, scheming.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 25 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.


Audible language includes "f--k," "prick," "whore," etc.


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKimBurgess February 12, 2014

You can't coddle children

There is language, there is sex, there are drugs, and there is drinking with smoking. Still, it's an excellent show.

It's certainly not for anyone w... Continue reading
Adult Written byAlan M. March 6, 2018

Politics Is The Game

House of Cards stars one of the best Actors of all time, Kevin Spacey so lets put it this way.
You don't have to be interested in politics to watch it. Its... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byThoughtful historian March 22, 2021

Incredible show, for mature audiences

The show is incredible, a remarkable achievement of modern television. When I say it is for mature audiences, I don’t mean so in the traditional sense. Teens 14... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bysquiggle345 July 21, 2020

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?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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