Let's just say critics are not in love with the third season of House of Cards. In a Washington Post column, Seth Masket calls the Netflix series "the worst show about American politics. Ever." He explains that many of the "lessons" the show teaches viewers are in fact very wrong: The show would have you believe, for example, that "there are only one or two smart people in Washington" (namely, Frank and Claire Underwood). The truth, which the West Wing got correct: "There are lots of smart people in Washington and they're all working against one another." More examples: Congressional leaders do not "hand-pick presidential nominees"; there is no "secret shortlist of potential presidential candidates" (it's pretty easy to figure out who might be running in a given year); the solicitor general would not be an awesome presidential candidate; etc., etc., etc.
"At the end of the day, House of Cards is a show about mean people doing mean things, and it does that well," Masket writes. "But if you want to understand American politics, watch just about anything else." And he's not the only one piling on:
- In USA Today, Michael Wolff says the third season "is no good ... No, no, not just no good, but incompetent, a shambles, lost." It's turned Kevin Spacey's Underwood from a schemer "deliciously and joyously without moral restraint or qualms" into, well, West Wing's "striving liberal public servant" Jed Bartlet.
- The new season also shifts focus to the Underwoods' marriage, notes Willa Paskin on Slate; she calls it "a comparatively plodding relationship drama."