Frank Underwood used to be a role model for Donald Trump. The fictional man at the center of “House of Cards” did, after all, improbably rise to become president of the United States.
In Season 5, President Underwood (Kevin Spacey) became wish fulfillment for anti-Trump viewers. With scandals closing in on him, Frank resigned in disgrace.
Those fictional scandals turned out to be nothing compared with the real one that fundamentally changed the show. After “Star Trek: Discovery” star Anthony Rapp came forward with his account of how Spacey made sexual advances on him in 1986 — when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26 — dozens more allegations were made against the “House of Cards” star.
Netflix shut down production; Spacey was fired.
And, yes, there’s a certain irony that the actor portraying a fictional president lost his job, but the real president is still in office despite at least 22 women making similar allegations.
Netflix and the producers, after regrouping and rewriting, went back into production on a shortened sixth and final season — eight episodes instead of 13 — that starts streaming Friday. The focus now is on the new President Underwood — Frank’s vice president/wife, Claire (Robin Wright).
It’s not a spoiler to tell you that Frank Underwood is dead. The series picks up 100 days into Claire’s presidency, when she’s dealing with death threats and politics while trying to keep up the façade that she’s in mourning for her late husband.
If you made it to the end of Season 5, you know that the marriage was over and Claire was planning to divorce Frank.
Like most TV series, this one exists in a world of heightened reality. You can pick it apart if you want to get all logical about it. But for the first few seasons, if you bought in, “House of Cards” was a great ride.
The show has long since collapsed upon itself under the weight of all the schemes and scandals. That Claire Underwood ended up on the ticket with her husband and the way they stole the election was simply ludicrous.
That wasn’t just jumping the shark, that was jumping a whole school of sharks.
Having seen five of the eight Season 6 episodes, I can tell you “House of Cards” is improved. There’s too much that looks too familiar, but the addition of Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear as siblings/industrialists out to control Claire, the White House and the country seems to be working.
So is it worth watching Season 6?
If you've stuck with “House of Cards” through the 65 episodes to date, sure, stream the final eight.
But if you gave up along the way, don’t bother to come back. It’s not worth it.