The irony of House of Cards’ presentation — which, actually, I believe is a conspiracy, not an irony — is this: The show is a really bleak, ugly depiction of human nature as fundamentally base, corruptible, and malignant. You don’t write the character of Claire Underwood if you don’t think people are basically either weak or evil.
So let’s extrapolate a little and assume that the House of Cards’ writers feel the same way about their viewers as they do about their characters (not a huge logical leap). That would mean that the necromancers behind this show have a pretty lousy view of those of us who started refreshing the Netflix homepage at 2:58 a.m. on February 14. They know we are weak. They know we are frail. They know we are hungry for the show.
Now consider this: If you were the person in charge of making, marketing, and then releasing House of Cards, and you believed that the art you made was at least somewhat true, and you believed that the future consumers of your art were normal humans with normal human failings and normal human weaknesses, then how would you distribute it?
This, I submit, is the answer: You would distribute it in one of two ways, depending on whether you were a benevolent person or a vindictive monster. If you were benevolent, you would release House of Cards at the normal pace that all sensible television shows have followed since the time of Shakespeare. You would set up your Netflix doohickey so we could get our House of Cards fix once a week for thirteen weeks, and had something to lend our lives hope and joy and glee. You would recognize that there is nothing better than wanting something really badly and then getting it, and you would kindly decide to let people with House of Cards problems experience that delight in thirteen small, emotionally manageable doses.
HOWEVER: The people who make House of Cards are not nice people. They are vindictive monsters. We know they are vindictive monsters because they take this really good, really gripping, really intense show and release twelve-odd hours of it all at once, destroying weekends, ruining social lives, wrecking all our circadian rhythms and work/life balance and good time-management habits. Fans are reduced to twitching, fidgeting weirdos who can’t contribute anything to normal conversations except “Have You Watched House of Cards Yet” or “Wasn’t The First Episode CRAZY” or “No I Can’t Hang Out With You, I’m Really Really Busy Tonight I Promise.”
It’s not nice. Frank Underwood laughs at us, and the House of Cards creators laugh at us, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Please, Netflix, please: Show some grace. Save us from ourselves. Release Season 3 at a merciful pace.
— Betsy Woodruff is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.