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Sweatpants & TV | Five Shocking “House of Cards” Moments—And the Lessons We Learned

By Mike Jones

“Netflix and chill” is more than an Internet meme nowadays, it has become a way of life. If you happened to binge-watch some of the network’s major series, you definitely felt chills down your spine every time you watched House of Cards. This political drama starring the brilliant Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright surely made you ask yourself: “How much of this is indeed true?” From shocking deaths and disturbing sex scenes to political atrocities and mind games, Frank and Claire Underwood, the evil geniuses in the White House, keep us glued to the screen season after season.

But beyond the political schemes and the mind-blowing traps that American politicians seem to set up for each other, beyond the eternal fight between Donkeys and Elephants for office, general elections, bills and the chair in the Oval, beyond betrayals, violence, murder, scandals and intricate plots, House of Cards also teaches us some important lessons about life, love, relationships, and the vile hunger for power. So let’s see today five (out of dozens) shocking moments of House of Cards we all need to learn from.

5. Frank Backstabs Freddy

House of Cards 5 Moments - 5_frank backstabs freddy

In the second season of the show, Frank turns on his all-time buddy, Freddy, and basically ruins his life in more ways than one. The man who made delicious barbecue ribs was one of the few figures in the show who made Frank look barely human and who supported him along the way.

The Shocking Moment

The media did what the media does and attempted to smear Frank by using his friendship with Freddy as a negative. The scandal immediately leads to Freddy losing his lifetime achievement—his restaurant—after a franchising deal is put to an end. The shock comes from Frank, as usual, who turns against Freddy in the blink of an eye, cutting ties with him for becoming a sudden risk to his political ascension. It’s the easiness of stabbing a friend in the back for your own agenda that is unforgivable here, and the world was cold-showered once again.

The Lesson

Nobody says you shouldn’t trust your friends, family members or collaborators. After all, the benefit of the doubt is a well-instated law and principle, but House of Cards and Frank’s actions towards Freddy taught us to take everything and everybody with a grain of salt.

4. Claire’s Admission of Rape

House of Cards 5 Moments - 4_claire admits to being raped

Claire’s TV interview confessing she was raped by a man now found in a high military position was an emotional roller coaster for most viewers. In the show’s internal economy, this is just another morally bankrupt way to gain leverage and even more power for the Underwood duo, but an admission of rape is still a serious issue we need to address.

The Shocking Moment

Claire was as Machiavellian as ever, but beyond the series’ plot, she did something many women in our current society are still very afraid to do: admit they were raped and face their abusers. Sexual harassment and rape in the military are hot issues today. Claire also managed to convince another woman in the military to corroborate her story and further accuse General McGinnis of sexual assault, becoming thus a model of women empowerment. The show managed to tackle rape and its long-term consequences like no other.

The Lesson

Rape victims are victims, and they should not only face their abuser and make sure they get what they deserve; they also need to find the courage of admitting such abuses. No matter the ranks, or how much the perpetrator manages to intimidate or threaten his victim, all women have the right to see justice done and liberate themselves from victim’s guilt or social pressure.

3. Claire’s Abortion Revelation

House of Cards 5 Moments - 3_claire admits having an abortion

In this day and time, abortion is another hot topic that raises the tides every time it is brought into the spotlight. Claire admits having had an abortion, claiming she had no other choice after she was raped by General McGinnis. Of course, we know this was not at all true, as she aborted Frank’s child.

The Shocking Moment

Nowadays, having an abortion without telling anyone about it is a risky business, let alone admitting it on TV. Claire’s public reveal of abortion and her “I will not be ashamed” speech was inspiring and brave. Surely, it elicited plenty of on and off screen debate, but women who stand behind their choices probably cheered for Claire during those moments.

The Lesson

The lesson Claire Underwood gave us all is that we should stand behind our decisions. Just as some specialists said, with this particular scene, Netflix went full feminist in the second season, offering “rich, honest stories about women’s lives without having to kowtow to the tender sensibilities of the conservatives in the audience.” The lesson here is unflinching honesty and assuming consequences for one’s actions.

2. The Open Marriage

House of Cards 5 Moments - 2_open marriage

House of Cards gave us some awkward feelings while dealing with relationships and people interactions. But few such moments were as chilling and mind-blowing as the kitchen scene when Claire, Frank, and novelist Tom Yates have breakfast together in the morning, with no unnecessary dialogue between them.

The Shocking Moment

Claire is married to Frank, but their relationship is done and over with. Claire and Tom have an intimate affair. Frank approves it and lets Claire have her moment. At this point, one cannot help but wonder how far anyone can go to ascend to the highest levels of power. Is the White House worth the pain of seeing your wife having a relationship under your roof with a man half your age? Can one man be so kind, so self-aware, and so understanding to openly allow his wife find happiness and passion in another man’s arms, just because he can’t offer her those things anymore?

The Lesson

Is everything allowed in war and love? The lessons here may be many and dark, but one thing is for sure: a strong couple with a common goal can get past traditional views on marriage and make enough compromises to keep the dice rolling.

1.Make War to Stay in Office

House of Cards 5 Moments - 1_start of a war

By the end of Season 4, everybody got terrified by Frank and Claire going beyond despicable and downright borderline psychopathic. These people will actually start a war only to stay in office and gain the elections by playing the misdirection card.

The Shocking Moment

Frank and Claire force the world to witness a man having his throat slit open live just to win the elections—as traditional re-elections won’t serve them. They purposely intend to cause fear and panic in the U.S. (and the world entirely) to just win the elections. They will stop at nothing and if this means sending America to war for them, it’s apparently a reasonable price to pay.

The Lesson

Every time somebody starts a war, we should all think about who is gaining what from it. And before going to the slaughter with eyes closed, we all should wonder if we aren’t being misled by any chance and if we are not mere puppets in the greedy hands of politicians.

What are your favorite House of Cards shocking moments and what did you learn from them?

Mike Jones is a Boston University graduate, with an MS in Mass Communication. He is wild about all things entertainment such as TV series, movies, and comics. His all-time favorite shows include It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Californication, and Sons of Anarchy.

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