I’m only two episodes in so, you know, maybe it’s too early to offer any kind of helpful or accurate assesment, but as of right now, here is how I feel about House of Cards. I love this show the way I love Ted’s Montana Grill, which is to say: despite myself, and therefore in a way that somewhat resembles a guilty pleasure, although I don’t believe in those, and anyway this is more complex.
But, OK, have you ever been to a Ted’s Montana Grill? It’s Ted Turner’s burger chain that works very very hard to make you forget it’s a burger chain; the interiors are all dimly-lit and wood-paneled and leather-seated, lots of brass touches on the light fixtures, lots of buffalo heads everywhere and scruffy paintings of cowboys and whatnot. If there was a suspendered dude with a handlebar mustache plinking out some jaunty lil tune from a piano in the corner, it would not feel out of place, although this is not something I have personally experienced at either of the three locations I have visited before. But all of them have involved, somewhere in the restaurant, whose double-hinged quarter-door things, like the kind that bad guys bust through in Westerns as tumbleweeds roll past in the background. Every action inside a Ted’s Montana Grill could be conceivably soundtracked by Ennio Morricone. That’s the kind of place it is. Except it’s a big sprawly chain owned by the dude who started CNN and used to boink Jane Fonda.
But also—the food is pretty good. I’ve gotten the same burger both times I’ve gone recently, but I could probably eat it at least once a week. Also they bring you little pickles as an appetizer, and the pickles are pretty good. But, duh, because everything about the place feels very exactingly tailored to the experience of enjoyment, like there is just enough salt and fat in every bite, and just enough rough touches in the decor to make you almost forget you are sitting amidst some very highly deliberated-over thing specifically constructed for mass appeal and, indeed, your individual approval. Nothing about it is mind-blowing but it’s still really satisfying just because feels, like, 2% better than I would have expected it to be.
I’m not sure if anyone else feels this way about the show, I haven’t been reading much about it and probably won’t, because I will be watching it (this is my new post-Girls strategy: watch don’t read), but I mentioned this to Joe last night and he said YES, EXACTLY, and then we high-fived because we’re smug married assholes.
We also high-fived when I figured out, without the help of IMDB, that the actress who plays the secretary/ladyfriend of Senator Muscles is the same girl from Cabin in the Woods (which is something more comparable to visiting a McDonalds and settling in for some real legit American terribleness and then realizing, oh my god, this Big Mac is actually a beautiful and hilarious essay about the shittiness of Big Macs!).