Let’s talk television, which just may be the new novel. Something that frightens me, being a writer and all. It’s so hard to compete with all of those great shows, even some of the not so great ones. Binge-watching is just so… addictive. I know reading is more relaxing and helps me get to sleep, but watching the tube appears to be more so—you’re just lying there, right?—when it’s not: it’s stimulating. Just one more episode, just one more. But let’s put that negative, sleep-depriving addictive quality aside, for the moment, and savor some of television’s serial pleasures.
House of Cards – Season 4
I am a diehard fan and have been since the first episode. Kevin Spacey has found the role of his lifetime and he is brilliant, the perfect blend of snaky charm, humor and evil, he wears it on his face, in the pockets of flesh beneath his eyes, the smile that goes cold or cunning in a flash
I have always liked Robin Wright, now I love her. I think she should marry me. In the past she came across as warm so there was no preparation for her cold as ice Claire Underwood. Those absurdly
tight clothes (Really, could a First Lady dress like this, and get away with it?), and her sexy short haircut, and those even more absurd high heels (one of the great throwaway moments of Season 4: Claire putting a bandaid on her heel. I mean, by now she must need surgery!) How does she walk in those shoes (a walk she has obviously perfected for her character, practically a goose step)?
I love everything about the show: the characters, the writing, the incredible production values, the music. I watch the credits through every time, they are so good. We all know it’s based on a British show (not to mention books, and no one does). I tried watching the Brit version but after the high-level production of the US show it looked shabby and gray, and no one was good looking. I mean, okay, I’m shallow, but I like to look at beautiful people. And what’s better than beautiful people behaving badly?
Season 3 was a disappointment. Splitting the Underwood’s up, pitting them against one another. I didn’t buy it. Not after all they’d done to get where they were. It felt forced and it just wasn’t fun. But this season (spoiler alert) they found a convenient way to bring them back together and the show is once again in top form. Ellen Burstyn’s cameo star turn as Claire’s venomous mama (“So that’s where she gets it!”). Jackie & Remy. The milk-toast VP rising to the occasion with the help of Claire’s self-serving manipulation. The Russian crisis. I was sad to lose Nathan Darrow’s Meechum, particularly after that famous threesome.
It may have strained credulity, but really, who cares, it was so depraved and so hot. And to see Claire back in true unstoppable monstrous manipulative mode is just… a beautiful thing. The Underwood’s are a team again, and about to be under investigation (I’m rooting for them to prevail). And this season’s fadeout: Frank and Claire watching the horrifying terrorist video—a tragedy Frank has just about encouraged for his own purposes—the only two people in the room watching coolly (“Turn the sound down,” says Claire), the couple enthroned side by side, so Shakespearean, so President & First Lady Macbeth. God, how I love this show.
Then there’s Happy Valley. From its Jake Bugg theme song to its murky color to its down and dirty star, Sarah Lancashire, everything about it feels authentic. I liked Season 1, but mainly for James Norton’s unbelievable psycho/sadist performance. After watching him in Grantchester, who would have expected it, with his angelic James Dean looks, turned on their literal head. In Season 1 I kept thinking only a British show
would have such a frumpy star like police sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire), but I was wrong. I have fallen in love with Catherine (Ok, I’m fickle), who I now see is beautiful, and what an actress, pitch perfect in every scene, tough and soulful with eyes that register every emotion. Season 2 is mesmerizing. The subplot (woven into the main plot) of an affair gone ugly, all the way to murder, is brilliant. The last episode so ugly and shocking it will have your head spinning.
Okay, now to read a book. And I have read a few, some very good, so that’s what I’ll blog/blab about next time.