In the wake of recent unsavory allegations made against Kevin Spacey, one of Netflix’s biggest shows has come tumbling down, like some sort of (for lack of a better metaphor) house of cards.
It’s depressingly poetic. The sudden, chaotic death of Spacey’s career has played out almost as if it were an episode of his own television show.
This leaves Netflix in something of a bind. What do you do when you’ve built a hugely successful political thriller, but your lead actor is accused of such horrendously vile private acts that you’ve got no choice but to instantly cancel the series and kill off one of your most profitable enterprises?
The solution, apparently, is to instantly announce a new upcoming House of Cards spin-off show to take the place of the original.
It’s almost suspicious just how fast Netflix has made this announcement. It suggests that the company had this contingency plan ready in advance, just in case Spacey died or became otherwise unsellable.
Alternatively, the planned spin-off has been announced despite Netflix not having actually done anything yet to get it ready – a promise of future entertainment, just as soon as the streaming giant can slap together something that will be suitably House of Cards-ish without needing to feature a problematic actor.
Either way, it’s pretty clear what’s going on – the power has moved down the ladder a few steps. We’re going to get some House of Cards supporting characters in their own new show, in an effort to provide as much continuity of storytelling as possible.
Francis Underwood is out, but that doesn’t mean that literally every other key character from House of Cards won’t show up regularly in this new spin-off.
If this sounds ruthless, it’s just another way that this whole situation feels like life imitating art. Kevin’s been caught out doing some nasty stuff, and in response, Netflix is willing to burn their bridges with him in order to maintain the appeal of one of their best shows – albeit under a new guise.
So the question is, will the new House of Cards spin-off live up to its predecessor, or will the show fall flat without Spacey’s engaging performance?
It’s unlikely that the new Cards, whatever form it takes, will feel quite right. Netflix is hoping that the appeal of the show lies in its storytelling and tense drama, rather than in Spacey’s compelling monologues.
They might be wrong on that point, but when your lead actor suddenly becomes horrendously unfashionable, what other choice do you have?