#30in30 Day 29: 5 Takeaways From House of Cards

Netflix is on a roll with their original programming. Many people are raving about Orange is the New Black. I expect to see a huge influx in off-beat, unconventional shows in 2o14 streaming on Netflix. The show that started this trend is House of Cards. The show is an edgier, darker political drama featuring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright (Jenny from Forrest Gump), and a slew of other actors you probably can’t readily pinpoint where you’ve seen them.

House of Cards sets the stage for the manipulation, negotiation, and exploitation that’s characteristic of DC Politics. The basic premise of the show is a young reporter (Kate Mara) is chasing the big story that’ll make her a prominent journalist on Capitol Hill. Her big story comes in the form of quid pro quo, with a glance behind the curtain of House Majority Whip, Francis “Frank” Underwood. What unfolds is Underwood’s puppetry of bringing down 1 public figure to elevate another.

Because I’m not a fan of political dramas, I can’t compare this show to any others. But it’s brilliantly written and in 1 season, it never loses focus on the primary goal of Frank Underwood. The writing is so meticulous that there’s some poignant takeaways after binge-watching the show for the 2nd time.

* In business, you will lie, cheat, and steal. There’s no honor in the corporate world. Every person at the decision-making level has their own agenda. With government, there’s committees set up to give the appearance that bipartisan representatives can work fluidly. Yet when it comes down to getting legislation through, the majority party leaders use seniority to over-promise on deals that minority members need for their respective constituents. Votes get swayed all the time. Lying in the corporate world, just as in politics, may as well be controlled by the brain stem. The great thing about characters like Frank Underwood is he shows that the higher up you move in the hierarchy, the more prolific you become at making people believe exactly what you want them to. He does this seamlessly with Peter Russo; both in his political and professional life. Eventually, the lying, cheating, and stealing you’ve done will payoff in the way you originally intended.

* The more power you have, the more power you want. I’ve always said that for people who are perfectionists, they’re never quite satisfied. For them, they’re addicted to the chase. For people who love power, it’s the same thought process. In a political career, there’s a clear track that most presidents have taken. Each level presents a new set of responsibilities. That power expands as your position of leadership moves upward. There are some men who just aren’t capable of handling absolute responsibility. I think it takes a man of courage to admit that he’s drunk off power and can’t be trusted with it. A better man is able to recognize he doesn’t need direct power to actually have some power. There’s an awesome quote that Underwood actually says in 1 episode – “Proximity to power deludes some into believing they wield it.”

* The little gestures to little people always matter. As a naturally giving person, I make sure to always do good to those who can’t do anything for me. Doing a favor for someone that can’t return it costs you nothing and in most cases, it makes you feel good. But the more cerebral reason is when you do something for the sheer joy and kindness of doing it, people will forever remember you for that gesture. You can give hundreds of speeches, write 100s of dope blog posts, and donate to all types of causes. However, people remember interactions. They remember things about an individual that may not be obvious to everyone else. So if you make it to a position of power and influence, it’s the title-less minority that’ll help keep you there.

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* Sometimes, your woman really is your mirror. The dynamics between Frank and his wife Claire aren’t fully fleshed out in this season. What is illustrated is that Claire Underwood is successful in her own right and has no problem being in the background. However, she’s just as unscrupulous and cunning at the political game as Frank is. First and foremost, she’s cheating too. And as most women, she’s cheating to fill a void. Meanwhile, Frank cheats merely because it’s another avenue for him to exercise his control. Second, Claire has her own agenda and causes that mean something only to her when it comes to politics. For Frank, the 1st season all about vengeance. But Claire wants to use him (their clout) as a way to get some good done in the world. Like most men, Frank doesn’t really care about Claire’s interests because they don’t benefit his agenda. But, he’s a man who loves his wife. So he goes to bat for her and wants to see that something she wants happen. In their relationship, I can see how and why men value women more when the love is a necessity vs. a desire.

* Someone you care about will suffer because of your success. Look, I’m all for taking your homeys with you to the top. I do believe that your inner circle should be blessed just as you are. However, the reality is someone will lose so that you can win. The hard pill to swallow is that person will be someone who was likely instrumental in your success. I mean look at Jay and Damon Dash. You haven’t seen them in a photo op together in YEARS! Relationships, even a marriage, can be collateral damage when a person is wholly focused on attaining their vision of success. The flip side of that is the people you love can be the ones who hold you back from reaching your potential. There will come a time in every person’s life where they’ll have to realize that who they love isn’t tailormade for the vision they have.

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