TV Critic’s Corner

‘House of Cards’ reaches its term limit

Claire (Robin Wright) is now the central figure on Netflix’s “House of Cards.”
Claire (Robin Wright) is now the central figure on Netflix’s “House of Cards.” David Giesbrecht/Netflix

It’s the end of a short but critical era in the evolution of scripted TV. “House of Cards” was the moment Netflix made its first significant mark in the realm of original series. Suddenly, Netflix wasn’t just a movie delivery system; it was the home of star-powered, Emmy-baiting dramas and comedies. And suddenly streaming TV was the new place. The moment was analogous to some extent to the way HBO’s “The Sopranos” opened up the world of pay cable to the mainstream in 1999, so that viewers were suddenly willing to travel to the nether lands of the dial for TV shows.

This year, five years after “House of Cards” premiered, Netflix racked up 112 Emmy nominations — more than HBO’s 108. “The Crown,” “Ozark,” “Black Mirror,” “GLOW,” “Stranger Things” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Orange Is the New Black” — those are just a few of the streamer’s hits since “House of Cards” arrived.


On Nov. 2, the sixth and final season of “House of Cards” arrives with a lot of extra baggage. The lead character, Frank Underwood, is dead, killed off due to the firing of Kevin Spacey for sexual assault allegations. Claire (Robin Wright), the first female president, is now the central figure.

“Whatever Francis told you the last five years, don’t believe a word of it,” she says directly to the camera, addressing viewers the way Spacey’s character often did. “It’s going to be different for you and me. I’m going to tell you the truth.” The public knows one version of Frank’s death, but Claire knows another. “A man like Francis doesn’t just die,” she says. “That would be — what’s the word? — convenient.”

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.