My New Year’s resolution was to give you guys more palate-cleansers to atone for my navel-gazing about polls, so here you go. Box checked. The next time you catch me babbling about which demographic subsamples support legalizing weed, just know that that means an overanalysis of a new “Old Spice” commercial is on the way.
Season two’s due out on Valentine’s Day and, I’m a bit ashamed to say, I’m looking forward to it. Something about HOC makes me feel bad for enjoying it. It’s not just that most of the characters are diabolical, it’s that the show doesn’t seem to know how seriously it wants you to take it. Are we supposed to laugh when Spacey breaks the fourth wall and uncorks one of his ain’t-I-a-stinker aphorisms about government or are we supposed to feel bad when he has the sympathetic Weiner-esque Peter Russo liquidated? It’s a strange mix of intense, intricately-plotted drama and hamminess, although I can’t tell if that’s by design or because Spacey insisted on making Frank as arch and hammy as possible. He seems at times to be acting in a different show from everyone else. Maybe the production was intended as a serious drama and then, when he took an interest in it, the producers couldn’t say no to a big name and decided to let him play the character any way he wants. As it is, the show sometimes feels like “All the King’s Men” as imagined by Neil LaBute. Weird — but watchable.
And no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That’s the real Chris Matthews making a cameo here. My sense from Twitter is that establishment media types love, love, love this show because of the glamorous Machiavellian intrigue it lends to their otherwise mostly dreary beat. If the writers are smart, they’ll cook up a plot next season involving Frank trying to kill someone at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Every media bigshot in America will volunteer for a cameo.