House of Cards wasn’t Netflix’s first original drama series (that would be Lilyhammer), but it’s the one that put the streaming service on the map. Its high production values, binge-able story, and marquee actors became staples of the streaming service’s production philosophy. However, it looks like Frank Underwood’s non-stop thirst for power is coming to a close.
Deadline reports that the upcoming sixth season of House of Cards will be the conclusion for the series. Executive producers Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese, who replaced exiting creator Beau Willimon last year, are both expected to return as co-showrunners. Interest in the show has declined, especially as real-world politics render the show’s venality and brutality as depressing rather than deliciously escapist fare. There’s really no need for an Evil West Wing when the real West Wing is filled with evil people.
The situation is further complicated by news that broke yesterday regarding star Kevin Spacey being embroiled in a sex scandal. Actor Anthony Rapp revealed that when he was 14 and Spacey was 26, Spacey preyed on the young man after a party. Spacey made a half-hearted apology on Twitter and then tried to bury the news by coming out of the glass closet, which only plays into the hands of bigots who believe that homosexuals are pedophiles. So now for Spacey, playing a duplicitous, self-serving fiend doesn’t seem like much of an acting stretch.
According to Deadline, Netflix made the decision to pull the plug today after the news broke last night. Key cast and creatives were alerted this morning. Additionally, Deadline reports that the scandal may have also ended Netflix’s interest in Gore, a Gore Vidal biopic about the acerbic author where Spacey was set to star.
But even if this scandal hadn’t erupted, it’s probably time for House of Cards to conclude. The fifth season struggled to make waves without Willimon, and its subject matter feels like something more suited for the Obama era where government was functional as opposed to now where the President is ranting and raving on Twitter as his campaign staff gets indicted. Also, Netflix itself has moved on, keeping House of Cards as a prestigious drama, but only one among many with plenty of other shows ready to take its place.