House of Cards (season 1)

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House of Cards (season 1)
Season 1 promotional poster
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 13
Original channel Netflix
Original run February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01)
Home video release
DVD release
Region 1 June 11, 2013 (2013-06-11)[1]
Region 2 June 10, 2013 (2013-06-10)[2]
Region 4 June 27, 2013 (2013-06-27)[3]
Blu-ray Disc release
Region A June 11, 2013 (2013-06-11)
Season chronology
Next →
Season 2
List of House of Cards episodes

The first season of the American television drama series House of Cards premiered exclusively via Netflix's web streaming service on February 1, 2013.[4] The season was produced by Media Rights Capital, and the executive producers are David Fincher, Kevin Spacey, Eric Roth, Joshua Donen, Dana Brunetti, Andrew Davies, Michael Dobbs, John Melfi, and Beau Willimon.

House of Cards was created for television by Beau Willimon. It is an adaptation of a previous BBC miniseries of the same name by Andrew Davies, which was based on the novel by Michael Dobbs. Set in present day Washington, D.C., House of Cards is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina's 5th congressional district and the House Majority Whip, who, after getting passed over for appointment as Secretary of State, decides to exact his revenge on those who betrayed him. The series also stars Robin Wright, Kate Mara, and Corey Stoll in lead roles.



No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Release date Production
1 1 "Chapter 1" David Fincher Beau Willimon February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-101
Francis "Frank" Underwood is an ambitious Democratic congressman and the House Majority Whip. Frank helped ensure the election of President Garrett Walker, who promised to appoint Frank as Secretary of State. However, before Walker is sworn in, Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez announces that Walker will not honor the agreement and will instead nominate Senator Michael Kern. Linda tells Frank that they want him to continue helping their administration from within the House of Representatives, starting with working on an education reform bill with Representative Donald Blythe. Furious at Walker's betrayal, Frank and his wife Claire, an environmental activist, make a pact to destroy Walker, starting with Kern. Frank starts seeking out pawns in his war against Walker. When the troubled Representative Peter Russo is arrested for drunk driving, Frank offers him a reprieve in exchange for his loyalty, covering up the incident by bribing the commissioner with funds for his political ambitions. Frank also encounters Zoe Barnes, a young political reporter for the Washington Herald newspaper. The two come to an agreement where Frank will give Zoe inside information that will further Zoe's own stagnating career, and giving Frank a patsy to serve incriminating information to destroy his opponents. He starts by leaking a copy of the first draft of Donald's education bill that proposes massive increases in government control of education, promptly causing a scandal one day after the inauguration.
2 2 "Chapter 2" David Fincher Beau Willimon February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-102
In the aftermath of the leak of the education bill draft, Frank manages to secure full control of the legislative course from the president and promptly removes Donald, who graciously takes the fall for the controversy in the press for Frank's sake. Frank hires a team of young interns to write a draft of the bill in a week that would usually take months to write. Claire fires over half of her NGO's staff to secure the necessary level of funds for her own plans for the organization. With Zoe's help, Frank plants a story that loosely ties Kern to an anti-Israel editorial that ran in the college newspaper he edited. Kern gravely mishandles the resulting media questions, throwing doubt on his candidacy. Frank then forces Russo to travel to meet a conspiracy junkie who used to be on the college newspaper and encourage him to state that Kern wrote the article himself, and the resulting firestorm of controversy destroys Kern's chances. Frank then tosses Catherine Durant's name to Zoe as the likely replacement before reinforcing her credentials to Vasquez.
3 3 "Chapter 3" James Foley Keith Huff & Beau Willimon February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-103
Frank is forced to return to his hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina in the midst of negotiating the education bill's reforms to the teachers' unions when his main rival stirs trouble. A young woman has been killed in a car accident after texting while driving, apparently distracted by a peach water tower that Frank has advocated to keep standing. His rival encourages the parents to sue, forcing Frank into a difficult negotiation. Claire meets and hires a hesitant Gillian Cole, an activist for WorldWell, to secure her organization's expertise on the international stage. Christina Gallagher tells Peter of an offer to work elsewhere which will allow their relationship to come out in the open, so he makes an effort to clean up his act. Zoe gets into trouble for talking about the Herald and Tom on national TV.
4 4 "Chapter 4" James Foley Rick Cleveland & Beau Willimon February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-104
Frank resorts to intricate political string-pulling when House Speaker Bob Birch refuses to support putting the education bill through the house with its controversial amendments. As a result, Frank organizes a coup that forces the majority leader to step down in place of one that Frank wants to put pressure on Birch to cooperate and keep his Speakership. Frank forces Russo to allow a shipyard in his district to close to keep a military base in his new majority leader Terry Womack's district open, ensuring his support for a coup if necessary. Tom is exasperated at Zoe's rebelliousness but the Herald's publisher overrules him. Tom offers Zoe the post of White House correspondent but she has doubts and is ultimately drawn closer to Frank. Remy re-tables an offer to the CWI but Claire refuses it at Frank's urging. Claire meets with photographer Adam Galloway, a former lover who tries to rekindle their relationship.
5 5 "Chapter 5" Joel Schumacher Sarah Treem February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-105
After Frank spends the night with Zoe, Claire is tacitly understanding so long as it achieves their goals — but even so renews her interest in Adam. The changes to the education bill lead to a frosty meeting between Frank and the head lobbyist for the teachers' union, who proves himself a dangerous adversary. The fallout from being forced to close the shipyard along with thousands of jobs for his constituents by Frank, along with the departure of Christina, sends Peter Russo into depression. Zoe seeks alternative employment while Tom is forced to resign for firing her. Frank and Claire foil the lobbyist's attempt to disrupt their fundraising plans. In retaliation, the lobbyist calls for a nationwide strike.
6 6 "Chapter 6" Joel Schumacher Sam Forman February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-106
As the teachers' strike escalates and the president quickly loses support due to it extending over three weeks, Frank is pressured to drop the bill entirely. He now has to achieve total victory to get the bill through and end the strike on his terms. A brick through Frank's window allows him to target the architect of the strike, lobbyist Marty Spinella, and the pair go head-to-head on TV in a confrontation that ends up embarrassing Frank further, and Frank is barely able to keep the president from forcing him to cut the bill. A cleaned-up Russo confides his intention to run for Governor of Pennsylvania; Frank sets the wheels in motion by enlisting Claire's help to draft a mutually beneficial environmental bill. A night spent scanning the police frequencies pays off when a local tragedy deals Frank a winning card, forcing Spinella to confront him. He goads Spinella into a rage, revealing he organized the brick incident himself, resulting in Spinella assaulting him when no one else is in the room. This gives Frank the leverage he needs: end the strike now, or Frank will press charges and send Spinella to jail.
7 7 "Chapter 7" Charles McDougall Kate Barnow & Beau Willimon February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-107
President Walker finally signs the education bill into law, earning Frank a major victory by affording him great influence and favor with Walker. Vice President Matthews is feeling sidelined and expresses discontent with Walker. Peter Russo readies himself for the governor's race ahead by attending AA meetings while his campaign team discusses strategies. Frank uses his relationship with Zoe to generate some positive spin on the announcement and taps Christina for the position of deputy campaign manager. Someone from his past unexpectedly reappears in Doug Stamper's life. Zoe recommends Janine Skorsky for a job.
8 8 "Chapter 8" Charles McDougall Beau Willimon February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-108
Along with Claire, Frank visits his alma mater at his military college, which is honoring him by naming a new library after him. He spends the night reminiscing and drinking with old friends, including one who may have been his former boyfriend, allowing a glimpse behind Frank's mask. Among the guests of the event is Remy Danton, who advises that SanCorp has concerns about Peter Russo running for governor. In the meantime, Peter returns to Philadelphia and visits his mother. He then tries to convince former shipyard employees to support him; an angry meeting with them reveals an uphill struggle ahead but he remains undeterred.
9 9 "Chapter 9" James Foley Beau Willimon & Rick Cleveland February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-109
Peter goes on a bus tour around Pennsylvania with Vice-President Matthews. Matthews initially torpedoes Peter's campaign but is eventually won over. Frank tries to whip support in Congress for the Delaware River bill. He needs Claire's help, but she is disappointed about how little help she is receiving for her own projects and goes behind Frank's back to ensure that the bill fails. Zoe decides her relationship with Frank should be purely professional but changes her mind when he stonewalls her.
10 10 "Chapter 10" Carl Franklin Sarah Treem February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-110
Frank is upset with Claire regarding the bill's failure, and Claire storms out. She approaches Zoe and informs her that the affair with her husband is not a secret. She then goes away to meet her own lover Adam, not telling Frank where she is. Frank is losing control of Russo and Zoe, who are turning on Frank for their own ends. He needs to keep Russo in line and also find out his wife's whereabouts. Russo slips in his sobriety and gets drunk with Rachel (the prostitute he was initially caught with in the premiere), falling into the trap Frank is setting for him. A drunk Russo makes a mess of a phone interview which Frank plans to use to crush his chances for governor and make his next move.
11 11 "Chapter 11" Carl Franklin Keith Huff & Kate Barnow & Beau Willimon February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-111
After Russo's disastrous phone interview, Frank convinces Matthews to run for Governor in Russo's place. Vasquez asks Frank forthrightly if he is ambitious to be Vice President himself and, after some reticence, he admits that this was his plan all along and reaches out to her as an ally. Meanwhile, after attempting to reconnect with his children, a still-inebriated Russo hands himself in to the police. Frank picks him up from jail and, recognizing him to be too much of a liability, proceeds to kill Russo, making it look like a suicide.
12 12 "Chapter 12" Allen Coulter Gina Gionfriddo & Beau Willimon February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-112
With Matthews about to win the governor's race, Frank is helping the White House vet VP candidates. The President suddenly sends him to evaluate Raymond Tusk, a multi-billionaire who lives modestly in St. Louis. But after staying with him, Frank eventually discovers deeper connections between Tusk and the President and learns that he is the one being vetted. Tusk offers to support him in return for an unspecified favor — but Frank refuses. Meanwhile Janine and Zoe's persistence starts to pay off as they begin to see through the conspiracy regarding Frank and Russo.
13 13 "Chapter 13" Allen Coulter Beau Willimon February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-113
Frank meets again with Tusk and reaches an accommodation; the President offers him the VP post and he accepts. Claire learns that Gillian is suing her for wrongful termination and refusing any settlement. She also consults a doctor about possible fertility treatments. Claire fires Gillian. Meanwhile, Zoe, Lucas, and Janine learn Rachel's identity and begin to put together more of the pieces of Frank's plots.


Critical response[edit]

The first season received positive reviews from critics. On Metacritic, the season received a weighted mean score of 76/100, which translates to "generally positive reception."[5][6] USA Today critic Robert Bianco praised the series, particularly Spacey and Wright's lead performances, stating "If you think network executives are nervous, imagine the actors who have to go up against that pair in the Emmys."[7] Tom Gilatto of People Weekly lauded the first two episodes, calling them "cinematically rich, full of sleek, oily pools of darkness."[5] In her review for The Denver Post, Joanne Ostrow said the series is "Deeply cynical about human beings as well as politics and almost gleeful in its portrayal of limitless ambition." She added: "House of Cards is a wonderfully sour take on power and corruption."[8]

Home video release[edit]

House of Cards was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 11, 2013.

Director's commentaries for all of the first season episodes premiered on Netflix on January 3, 2014. They had not been included on the home video release.[9]


At the 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards, Kevin Spacey and Corey Stoll were nominated for Best Drama Actor and Best Drama Supporting Actor, respectively. The show has also been nominated at the TCA Awards for the Outstanding New Program and the Program of the Year.

On July 18, 2013, House of Cards became the first Primetime Emmy Award nominated series for original online only web television for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards. Among those nine nominations were Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Kevin Spacey, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Robin Wright, and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for David Fincher. The first season was also nominated for Casting, Cinematography, Editing, Music, and Main Title Music at the 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.[10] On September 15, the series became the first web television series and the first web television webisode to be Primetime Emmy Awarded with two wins at the 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards: Eigil Bryld for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series and Laray Mayfield and Julie Schubert for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series.[11] On September 22, Netflix made history with a total three wins including Fincher's Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for directing the pilot episode "Chapter 1" in addition to the pair of Creative Arts Emmy Awards, making "Chapter 1" the first Primetime Emmy-awarded webisode.[12] None of the Emmy awards were considered to be in major categories, however.[13]

In addition, the success of House of Cards and popularity of Breaking Bad, both of which are only available in the United Kingdom online has caused a rule change for the British Academy Television Awards and British Academy Television Craft Awards beginning with the ceremonies for the 2013 calendar year on May 18, 2014 and April 27, 2014, respectively.[14][15]


  1. ^ "House of Cards: The Complete First Season (2013)". Retrieved April 23, 2013. 
  2. ^ "House of Cards - Season 1 (DVD + UV Copy) (2013)". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ "House Of Cards (Blu-ray)". JB Hi-Fi. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ Ryan, Maureen (January 22, 2013). ""House of Cards" On Netflix: Inside Intel on Kevin Spacey's Dark Drama". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 25, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "House of Cards (2013): Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  6. ^ Stone, Jeff (February 1, 2013). "Netflix's 'House of Cards' Earns Rave Reviews, CEO Reed Hastings Promises Hollywood Takeover". International Business Times. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  7. ^ Bianco, Robert (February 1, 2013). "'House of Cards' is all aces". USA Today. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  8. ^ Ostrow, Joanne (February 1, 2013). "Ostrow: Kevin Spacey shines in "House of Cards" political drama on Netflix". The Denver Post. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ Spangler, Todd (January 3, 2014). "Netflix Adds ‘House of Cards’ Director’s Commentary for Season 1". Variety. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  10. ^ Stelter, Brian (July 18, 2013). "Netflix Does Well in 2013 Primetime Emmy Nominations". The New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Netflix Makes History With Two Primetime Creative Arts Emmy® Awards". PR Newswire. September 15, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2013. 
  12. ^ Sharma, Amol; Cheney, Alexandra (September 23, 2013). "Netflix Makes Some History With Showing at Emmys". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 23, 2013. 
  13. ^ Prudom, Laura (September 23, 2013). "Netflix Wins Three Emmys, 'House Of Cards' Shut Out Of Major Categories". The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 23, 2013. 
  14. ^ Plunkett, John (October 1, 2013). "Bafta embraces US shows only available online". The Guardian. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  15. ^ Hodgson, Claire (October 1, 2013). "Breaking Bad and House of Cards could be set for BAFTA nominations thanks to new rules". Daily Mirror. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 

External links[edit]