Will Kevin Spacey’s Legacy Doom Robin Wright’s “House of Cards”?

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Netflix)

In case you misinterpreted all the explosions outside your window last week, you’ll be aware that Wednesday was the Fourth of July. Along with Captain America’s Hundredth birthday (yes, that’s a thing), this was also the day that the internet was treated to an initial teaser showing off Robin Wright in “House of Cards” season six.

Just as a heads up, Netflix, while the date makes sense, if you’re after news coverage, it’s smart not to make this kind of announcement while everyone is on vacation.

(I’m British so I worked through the holiday, but even I didn’t think the teaser was all that newsworthy.)

Nevertheless, a new teaser exists, and spoiler alert, season six has Robin Wright in it.

This is a declaration of independence in its own right. The show has shed its controversial baggage, and is moving forward free and unrestricted, with a #MyTurn hashtag that somewhat resembles the #MeToo movement that got Kevin Spacey in trouble in the first place.

But can “House of Cards” really profess its independence from Spacey’s tainted legacy?

Not according to an interview that Wright gave this week, in which she discussed her disgraced former costar.

Spacey’s Shadow

This is far from the last time Spacey will be mentioned in the discourse surrounding “House of Cards” season six. As much as everyone involved would prefer a Poochie-style “My planet needs me!” removal of the problem character from the narrative, Frank Underwood is going to leave a hole in the show.

Just as Spacey himself will drive much of the meta-discussion of the season’s development.

When asked whether she ever noticed any warning signs that Spacey might be a bit of a supervillain, Wright quickly distanced himself from the actor.

“Kevin and I knew each other between action and cut, and in between setups where we would giggle,”, said Wright, “I didn’t know the man. I knew the incredible craftsman that he is.”

There’s a real danger with season six of “House of Cards” that Kevin Spacey’s rather horrible current public image is going to dent the show itself. The challenge is helping Wright and her other coworkers escape the shadow that’s been cast over the entire production.

When the new season drops, audiences are going to scrutinize the episodes in a granular fashion. Everything will be weighed and measure, as the entire piece of motion art is filtered through the lens of a painful Hollywood scandal.

Implausible Deniability

I don’t blame Wright for wanting to distance herself from Spacey as much as possible, just as the show will do its best to pretend that Frank Underwood is gone forever.

At the same time, I don’t think it’s going to be enough. The media storm will not cease. Interviewers will continue to ask everyone involved about Spacey’s personal life. Critics will review each episode of season six in terms of their merit in a post-Frank world.

I get the feeling that it’s going to be a long time before the final season of “House of Cards” will be appreciated for its own intended message. Instead, the show will be seen as an addendum to a scandal; an attempt at papering over the cracks left by a heartbreaking betrayal of trust.

It’s hard for “House of Cards” season six to be anything else.

Perhaps this show needs to be sacrificed. Perhaps a political thriller based on a creepy predator needs to be sacrificed so that the next wave of television can better benefit from the fallout from the #MeToo movies.

Maybe we all need a clean break, and “House of Cards” season six was a mistake from the start.

We’ll have to wait and see. Personally, though, something tells me that this is hardly going to be the triumphant conclusion to the narrative that Netflix was hoping for.