This show received a lot of attention when it was released simply because it marked Netflix’s entry into production. When the show led the Emmy nominations, there was additional talk about how it signalled a shift toward online distribution away from cable. All of these stories are interesting but they also strike beside the main point: the show is very very good. The plotting is generally tight, the photography is often beautiful, and the acting is simply great.
- the relationship between Claire and Francis. This is a marriage as something more than love and sex. And the “more” makes it better. I came away thinking that we have traded in a strong imagining of the marriage feast for a thin Romantic (and romantic) gruel.
- I love the cigarettes by the window. A perfectly pitched image.
- Claire’s character is mysterious and powerful. Her confrontation with the dying bodyguard captures a large part of what I’m fascinated by. I side with her completely in that moment. He sends his wife out of the room and confesses his desire for Claire as if his desire were something special. She points out that it isn’t special, it’s cliché and an imposition, a claim to power that she’s dealt with over and over her entire life. She then points out how blind he is to the reality of her marriage: she wants and has something more than desire with Francis. And she does this while turning his desire against him. A pinnacle moment in the series.
- the tracking time-lapse photography in the opening sequence is very beautiful and the music grew on me. I appreciated it by the end.
More generally, I realize I like political drama. One of the best things about the second season of Deadwood is that it’s so explicitly about the struggle to see and gain power. Movies like Ides of March and All the President’s Men are also great. House of Cards can stand neck and neck with them.