These days, just about anyone with an Internet connection and some time on their hands enjoys a wonder of the modern age: binge-watching. One of the first, and still one of my favorites, is Netflix’s House of Cards. No matter how over-the-top the plot twists become, no matter how difficult it is to follow the multilayered schemes and shifting alliances, I can’t quit the drama surrounding the Underwoods and their White House. (It also helps that I get an added bonus of local color, since Frank Underwood hails from Gaffney, South Carolina, next door to where I sit in Spartanburg. One early episode even featured the Gaffney Peachoid – look it up.)
Frank Underwood’s approach to personnel is … well, unsentimental and often brutal. We all know the rule of at-will employment: Both the employee and the employer may end their relationship at any time, with or without notice or reason. Congressman, Vice President, President, and [spoiler alert!] now Mr. Underwood seems bent on adding a little twist to the familiar rule: An employer may terminate an employee’s employment at any time by killing said employee, without notice and often without much reason. The recently released season five is no exception.
I’m a lawyer, and a hammer considers everything it sees to be a nail, so I often wonder what it would be like to defend the deposition of a fictional character or sit at a trial while that character testifies. Frank Underwood, if he were as candid under oath as he is with the camera, would probably have me reaching for his checkbook in an instant (check that–he would have me reaching for the Fifth Amendment in an instant). Take, for instance, these quotes:
- Right off the jump in the show’s first episode, Frank’s neighbors’ dog was struck by a car. He stood over the dog, looked into the camera, and said, “There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things.” Then he strangled the last bits of life out of the pooch while no one was looking. His testimony is not off to a great start. I also wish he hadn’t worn his favorite “F” and “U” cufflinks.
- “Of all the things I hold in high regard, rules are not one of them.” Oookay. Maybe we can recover from this one … maybe I can cast him as ambitious, results-oriented, and a real go-getter. Folks like a take-charge guy, don’t they?
- “For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted.” Oh, man. C’mon, Frank! Throw me a bone here! I realize you’re competitive, but a lot of your people are no more, and those folks over in the jury box are getting nervous and scoping out the exits.
- “I have zero tolerance for betrayal, which they will soon indelibly learn.” Lovely, Frank. I’ve stopped taking notes, and I’ve joined the jury in scoping out the exits.
- “When you’re fresh meat, kill and throw them something fresher.” And with that, I will take my leave.
Any other House of Cards gems that you like? Feel free to include them in the comments.