The Easy Way To Fix House of Cards' Kevin Spacey Problem
House Of Cards is the perfect show for these hyper-partisan, politically charged everything times, and there's no better testament to this than the fact that its lead star is a self-confessed sexual monster. Or rather, its former lead star, since Netflix has more self-awareness than the GOP and fired Kevin Spacey's ass before the (fictional) republic fell.
It's pretty much confirmed that Frank Underwood is dead. We've spent five seasons watching him connive and murder his way to the top of the pile, so there's literally zero chance that he had a last minute wuss out and retired to the hills to herd goats. He's dead. But he's not merely dead; he's dead in a no-fuss, no-drama way that allows Netflix to sweep the character under the rug as quickly as possible and get straight to Robin Wright doing typical female president stuff, like killing staffers and holding child sex orgies in pizza parlors.
To which we say, fuck that noise.
It's the responsibility -- nay, the divine mandate -- of House Of Cards and Netflix to give Frank Underwood the most humiliating, idiotic death ever seen outside an Itchy & Scratchy episode. We don't care enough about the new season that we wouldn't mind, say, a week of reshoots to give us a scene wherein he chokes on a pretzel, or gets offed after he lights a cigar inside a methane-filled porta potty, or drives his car over a cliff while the theme to Curb Your Enthusiasm plays softly in the background.
"Goodnight, sweet asshole. Try not to touch up any angels as they sing thee to thy rest."
Our reasoning is solid on this. For one, this whole debacle cost Netflix $39 million and gave a lot of people sleepless nights. We're not only talking executives; we're talking camera and sound and editing and makeup and, yes, the writing department. While Netflix was scrambling to decide what to do with HOC, these folks were left twisting in the wind for weeks, unable to take work because they didn't know if/when there was even a show to sign a contract with. Why shouldn't they get a scene in which the embodiment of their pain falls down an elevator shaft?
That sounds childish, and it is, but there's another, more sensible reason for a cartoonish Underwood death: This is the only form of justice that Kevin Spacey is going to feel. We can spout platitudes about how his career and reputation are trash, but he's fucking rich and the criminal justice system doesn't care. It's also hard to make a case that reputation damage is a fitting punishment when Donald Trump bragged about molesting women, was accused by his ex-wife of beating and forcing himself on her, and admitted to watching underage beauty pageant contestants getting dressed, and we responded by ostracizing that guy to, umm ... the White House.
So the only thing we have is Spacey's legacy -- which includes, to a large extent, Frank Underwood. If Underwood dies from an assassin's bullet, that's fitting, artistically speaking. He dies as a consequence of his dickhead actions, and thus always to tyrants, etc. etc. It has a certain Shakespearean quality to it, and if we're honest, this is how the show was always going to end. As a closer, it's neat, and therefore the most likely option. But it's too neat and too ... nice. Spacey still gets a grand ending and his artistic legacy remains intact, while unwitting viewers will think his absence from the show was, like, for budget reasons or retirement, not because the actor was an abusive dickhat.
If Underwood dies by slipping on a banana peel and falling out of a window into a truck full of mouse traps, however, he becomes a farcical character. That kind of death isn't poetic or tragic or fitting -- it's just dumb, and you wouldn't be able to rewatch the show without smiling at the fact that the scheming, Machiavellian, posturing prick you're watching isn't destined for greatness. He's destined to die in the stupidest way imaginable, like all posturing pricks. It's Shakespearean, but like, one of the not-boring ones.
We could go further and say that this should be the de facto punishment for anyone who has to drop out of the limelight because they get outed for sex crimes. Think of it like damnatio memoriae, but with Maura Pfefferman getting eaten by an escalator. It's the small penis rule, but with Louie getting his pecker caught in an industrial milking machine. It's unpersoning, but with James Woods fading angrily into obscurity on Twitter.
If recent events have shown anything, it's that the criminal justice system is woefully under-equipped to deal with #MeToo and systemic sexual harassment, and how burden of proof is wonky when a crime happens in a shady hotel room or a locked office. Popular culture doesn't have these issues, however. There's no burden of proof or legalities to obey when it comes to wrecking the shit of the industry's vilest creatures, just a countless array of opportunities to turn their artistic legacy into poison. It's fitting, too, because you know who else would do something like this?
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