Can House of Cards be Feminist if it Doesn’t Have a Brain?

by evanmcmurry

Amanda Marcotte may have detected a feminist streak where there is none in House of Cards’ second season, not because the show isn’t that feminist but because it simply isn’t that thoughtful. Consider (blah blah spoiler alert), in discussing Claire’s live-TV admission she’s had an abortion:

Interestingly, no anti-choicers protest or threaten Claire until after the tabloid press starts a rumor that she is an adulteress. This decision on the part of the show ends up driving home the idea that anti-abortion sentiment stems mainly from a desire to control female sexuality.

I’d like to believe that’s true—it would be a powerful and incisive subtext if it were. But that’s assigning the show a political acuity it demonstrates nowhere else. This is a season in which (blah blah spoiler alert) Democrats get a political win by using entitlement reform to save the GOP from shutting down the government, the tea party scores electoral victories through huge political donations rather than scrappy primary sabotages, and Dems try to save their midterm majority by impeaching their own president. What are the odds House of Cards got that basic, CNN-level stuff wrong but nailed the nuances of subterranean culture war motives?