House of Cards (season 1)

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House of Cards (season 1)
Frank Underwood - House of Cards.jpg
Season 1 promotional poster
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 13
Original network Netflix
Original release February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01)
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.[1] 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
Title Directed by Written by Original release date Prod.
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 Michael Kern. Frank starts seeking out pawns in his war against Walker. When the troubled Representative Peter Russo is arrested for drunk driving with Rachel Posner, a prostitute, in the car with him, 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 in which Frank will give Zoe inside information that will further Zoe's own stagnating career and give Frank a patsy to serve incriminating information to the media about his opponents. He starts by leaking a copy of the first draft of Donald Blythe'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 is forced to lay off over half of the Clean Water Initiative's staff after a donation contingent on Frank being appointed Secretary of State does not materialize. With Zoe's help, Frank plants a story that loosely ties Kern to an anti-Israel editorial that ran in the college newspaper that Kern himself edited. Kern gravely mishandles the resulting media questions, throwing doubt on his candidacy. Frank then forces Peter Russo to travel to meet a conspiracy junkie who used to be on the college newspaper and encourages 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 Linda Vasquez.
3 3 "Chapter 3" James Foley Keith Huff and 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. Peter Russo's chief of staff and girlfriend, Christina Gallagher, tells him of an offer to work elsewhere which will allow their relationship to be made public, so he makes an effort to clean up his act. Zoe gets into trouble for talking about the Herald and her boss, Tom Hammerschmidt, on national TV after being told not to do so.
4 4 "Chapter 4" James Foley Rick Cleveland and 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 the education bill 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, in order to put pressure on Birch to cooperate and keep his Speakership. Frank forces Russo to allow a shipyard in his district to close in order to keep a military base in the new majority leader Terry Womack's district open, ensuring Womack's support for a coup if necessary. Tom Hammerschmidt is exasperated at Zoe's rebelliousness but the Herald's publisher overrules him. Tom offers Zoe the post of White House correspondent and she accepts, but Frank convinces her to reverse her decision, which further antagonizes Hammerschmidt. Remy Danton, a lobbyist and former employee of Frank's, re-tables a funding offer to the CWI that would allow them to hire back the staff they laid off, but Frank pressures Claire to refuse it. Claire meets with photographer Adam Galloway, a former lover who tries to rekindle their relationship. The two of them kiss, but then stop, as Claire says it is a mistake. The episode ends with Frank going to Zoe's apartment, where the two will presumably have sex.
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 Marty Spinella, the head lobbyist for the teachers' union, who proves himself a dangerous adversary. The fallout from being forced to close the shipyard by Frank, which costs thousands of jobs for his constituents, and his breakup with Christina sends Peter Russo into depression. An inebriated Russo confronts Frank on the doorstep of his home about the shipyard closure. Frank berates Russo's drinking and immaturity, then confides that he has set the stage for Russo to run for governor if he can clean up his act. Zoe seeks alternative employment while Tom is forced to resign for firing her and calling her a 'cunt.' Frank and Claire foil Spinella's attempt to disrupt their fundraising plans. In retaliation, Spinella calls for a nationwide strike.
6 6 "Chapter 6" Joel Schumacher Sam Forman February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-106
As the teachers' union strike escalates and Walker quickly loses support due to it extending over three weeks, Frank is pressured to drop the bill entirely. The stakes are high for Frank as he decides that he has to achieve total victory over Spinella or he will lose all of his influence with the president. A brick thrown through Frank's window allows him to target the architect of the strike, lobbyist Marty Spinella, and the pair go head-to-head on CNN in a confrontation that ends up embarrassing Frank further (with his words being turned into a viral dance mix), and Frank is barely able to keep Walker from forcing him to water down the bill. A cleaned-up Russo informs Frank that he will accept Frank's help and run for Governor of Pennsylvania; Frank sets the wheels in motion by enlisting Claire's help to draft an environmental bill that will help the CWI and also replace some of the jobs lost with the closing of the shipyard. 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. Claire hears an unexpected deathbed confession.
7 7 "Chapter 7" Charles McDougall Kate Barnow and 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 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while his campaign team discusses strategies. Frank uses his relationship with Zoe to generate some positive spin on the announcement. Frank meets with Christina and convinces her to forgive Russo and become his deputy campaign manager, reigniting their relationship. Someone from his past unexpectedly reappears in Doug Stamper's life. Zoe recommends Janine Skorsky for a job at Slugline.
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 is implied to have been his former lover, allowing a glimpse behind Frank's mask. Among the guests of the event is Remy Danton, a lobbyist from SanCorp, who 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 and Rick Cleveland February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-109
Peter Russo 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 environmental bill. He needs Claire's help, but she is disappointed about how little financial help she is receiving for her NGO and goes behind Frank's back to ensure that the bill fails at the request of Remy. Zoe decides her relationship with Frank will now 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. Frank has his chief of staff, Doug Stamper, enlist Rachel Posner to pick up Russo at a fundraiser and get him drunk, and Russo falls into this trap. A drunk Russo makes a mess of a live radio interview which Frank plans to use to crush Russo's chances for governor.
11 11 "Chapter 11" Carl Franklin Keith Huff and Kate Barnow and Beau Willimon February 1, 2013 (2013-02-01) HOC-111
After Russo's disastrous phone interview, Frank convinces Vice President Matthews to run for Governor of Pennsylvania in Russo's place. Linda 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 for the previous DUI in which he wasn't charged. Frank picks him up from jail and, recognizing him to be too much of a liability, proceeds to kill Russo through carbon monoxide poisoning, making it look like a suicide.
12 12 "Chapter 12" Allen Coulter Gina Gionfriddo and 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 realizes that it is actually Tusk vetting him. Tusk offers to support him in return for an unspecified favor — but Frank refuses. Meanwhile Janine, who now works with Zoe again, 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 with Tusk again and reaches an accommodation; the President offers him the VP post, and he accepts. Claire consults a doctor about possible fertility treatments as a ruse to gain leverage on Gillian who she fired and has initiated a wrongful termination lawsuit. Meanwhile, Zoe, Janine, and Lucas Goodwin, a former coworker of theirs, 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 out of 100 based on 25 reviews, which translates to "generally positive reception."[2][3] On Rotten Tomatoes, the season received a score of 84% with an average rating of 8.2 out of 10 based on 32 reviews; the site's consensus reads, "Bolstered by strong performances — especially from Kevin Spacey — and surehanded direction, House of Cards is a slick, engrossing drama that may redefine how television is produced."[4] 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."[5] Tom Gilatto of People Weekly lauded the first two episodes, calling them "cinematically rich, full of sleek, oily pools of darkness."[2] 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."[6]


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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] None of the Emmy awards were considered to be in major categories, however.[10]

Spacey received best actor nominations at the 20th Screen Actors Guild Awards,[11][12] 71st Golden Globe Awards,[13] and 18th Satellite Awards.[14] Wright won best actress at both the 71st Golden Globe Awards and 18th Satellite Awards, while Stoll was nominated at both for supporting actor and the series was nominated at both for best drama.[13][14][15] Wright's Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for her portrayal of Claire Underwood made her the first actress to win a Golden Globe Award for an online-only web television series.[16][17][18] The show won a 2013 Peabody Award for Area of Excellence.[19]

At the 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards, Kevin Spacey and Corey Stoll were nominated for Best Drama Actor and Best Drama Supporting Actor, respectively.[20] The show has also been nominated at the 29th TCA Awards for the Outstanding New Program and the Program of the Year.[21] The show was also nominated at the 40th People's Choice Awards for Favorite Streaming Series,[22] at the Producers Guild of America Awards 2013 for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama,[23] at the 66th Directors Guild of America Awards for Outstanding Directing – Drama Series,[24] at the Writers Guild of America Awards 2013 for Television: Dramatic Series, Television: New Series and Television: Episodic Drama, winning new series.[25][26][27]

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.[28][29] At the 2014 British Academy Television Awards the show was nominated for Best International Programme.

Home video release[edit]

The first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1 on June 11, 2013,[30] in region 2 on June 10, 2013,[31] and in region 4 on June 27, 2013.[32]

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.[33]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ a b "House of Cards (2013): Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "House of Cards: Season 1 (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 27, 2015. 
  5. ^ Bianco, Robert (February 1, 2013). "'House of Cards' is all aces". USA Today. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  6. ^ Ostrow, Joanne (February 1, 2013). "Ostrow: Kevin Spacey shines in "House of Cards" political drama on Netflix". The Denver Post. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  7. ^ Stelter, Brian (July 18, 2013). "Netflix Does Well in 2013 Primetime Emmy Nominations". The New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Netflix Makes History With Two Primetime Creative Arts Emmy® Awards". PR Newswire. September 15, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2013. 
  9. ^ Sharma, Amol; Cheney, Alexandra (September 23, 2013). "Netflix Makes Some History With Showing at Emmys". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 23, 2013. 
  10. ^ Prudom, Laura (September 23, 2013). "Netflix Wins Three Emmys, 'House Of Cards' Shut Out Of Major Categories". The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 23, 2013. 
  11. ^ "’12 Years a Slave’ Leads SAG Awards with 4 Nominations". December 11, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  12. ^ "SAG nominations 2014: The complete list of nominees". Los Angeles Times. December 11, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Farley, Christopher John (December 12, 2013). "Golden Globes Nominations 2014: '12 Years a Slave,' 'American Hustle' Lead Field". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 12, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b "The International Press Academy Announces Nominations For The 18th Annual Satellite Awards". PR Newswire. December 2, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  15. ^ Kilday, Gregg (February 23, 2014). "Satellite Awards: '12 Years a Slave' Wins Best Motion Picture". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  16. ^ Zurawik, David (December 12, 2013). "'House of Cards' star Robin Wright earns series' sole Golden Globes win". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  17. ^ Hyman, Vicki (January 12, 2014). "2014 Golden Globes: Robin Wright wins best actress for online-only 'House of Cards'". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  18. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (January 12, 2014). "Golden Globes: ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’ Nabs Upset TV Comedy Wins". Variety. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  19. ^ "2013 Peabody Awards". Peabody Award. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Big Bang, Horror Story, Parks & Rec, Good Wife, The Americans Lead Critics Choice Nominations". TVLine. May 22, 2013. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  21. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (June 10, 2013). "FX's 'The Americans' Leads 2013 TCA Awards Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 10, 2013. 
  22. ^ Glee, Katy Perry Lead People's Choice Award Nominations, 2 Broke Girls' Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs to Host E! Online, Retrieved November 5, 2013
  23. ^ "Nominations for Theatrical Motion Picture, Animated Theatrical Motion Picture and Long-Form TV". Producers Guild of America. January 2, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  24. ^ "DGA Awards Film Nominees Have No Shockers: Cuaron, Greengrass, McQueen, Russell, Scorsese". Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  25. ^ "2014 Writers Guild Awards Winners Announced". Writers Guild of America. Writers Guild of America. Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Captain Philips and Her win top awards". CBS News. February 3, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Her and Captain Phillips win at Writers Guild Awards". Guardian. February 2, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  28. ^ Plunkett, John (October 1, 2013). "Bafta embraces US shows only available online". The Guardian. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  29. ^ 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. 
  30. ^ "House of Cards: The Complete First Season (2013)". Retrieved April 23, 2013. 
  31. ^ "House of Cards - Season 1 (DVD + UV Copy) (2013)". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  32. ^ "House Of Cards - Season 1". JB Hi-Fi. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  33. ^ Spangler, Todd (January 3, 2014). "Netflix Adds ‘House of Cards’ Director’s Commentary for Season 1". Variety. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 

External links[edit]