Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Frank Underwood: House of Cards and the Fourth Wall.

    House of Cards is a hit Netflix Original Series that has run from 2013 and released it's third season on Netflix as of last February. It revolves around Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) a corrupt and often maniacal politician in Washington doing anything he can to get on top. The show itself is great for so many reasons, blocking, sound, color; but I think what really grabs people's attention is the fourth wall breaks (breaks from the story directed at the audience) periodically scattered across the show. Here's a quick video to demonstrate.

      Fourth wall breaks, to me, are typically found in comedies and typically movie, not TV shows. The classic fourth wall break can be seen in movies like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Space Balls, Annie Hall, ect...But to see these breaks in television I think was a new experience for me and here's why it works.
     They allow us into the world of Frank Underwood, it gives us his moves and his plays before his opponents know what's coming. By allowing this we also start to sympathize with an almost unlikeable character. It also doesn't come across as cheesy or overdone. This show has a very Shakespearean storytelling style to it, and as actors often broke the fourth wall in plays to give monologues Frank Underwood masterfully does the same in this show.
     Fourth wall breaks are an technique that can only really work when it is used tastefully and well. If it isn't the audience won't receive it. House of Cards manages to do this in the best way I have seen in a long time not only drawing us into the story more but propelling a narrative in a more interesting way.

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