It’s a House of Cards All Right
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It’s a House of Cards All Right


its a house of cards all rightI’m going to start off by admitting that I am very peculiar when it comes to television. If I have any down time at all, or am in dire need of a mental “check out,” there are only two shows I’ll watch: Law & Order Special Victims Unit and Medium (2005-2011, starring Patricia Arquette). Even though I have seen every single episode of both of these shows countless times, I would rather binge-watch reruns than get invested in a new show. I guess what I am saying is I don’t like change.

A couple exceptions to this rule are Golden Girls and Sex and The City marathons but marathons only. Much like I never had interest in just one drink, I don’t have interest in watching just one episode of a show I like. If there isn’t going to be an abundant supply readily available, don’t bother me. I know how shitty it feels to try and control my drinking; I don’t want to have to try and control my TV watching too.

So when I found out that Netflix was producing original programming and releasing them a season at a time, I got excited. It seemed someone finally understood the needs of alcoholic television watchers. As a token of my gratitude, I vowed to step out of my comfort zone and give a few of the Netflix shows a try. And I’m kind of sorry I did.

It was December of 2013 when I chose to start my resolution with House of Cards, a political drama starring  Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright (who will always be Robin Wright Penn to me). I quickly learned the show had all the elements I love: lying, cheating, sex, suspense, manipulation and Michael Kelly (who plays a sober alcoholic!) Watching the first episode was a lot like the first time I did Ecstasy. As soon as it hit my system I was like, “Dear God, thank you.”

So I was more than happy to clear out my schedule and spend the next few days (and nights) confined to my couch absorbing the first season. But when it ended, I realized that was it. There wasn’t a second season waiting in my queue. I got online and learned that, much to my horror, there was no season two—not yet. It wasn’t scheduled to be released until February 14, 2014.

FEBRUARY 14, 2014!?!?! There were three freakin’ weeks left of 2013 and this bitch is trying to be all like 2014?! Hell, I wasn’t sure I’d still be alive by then. I immediately took out my phone and created an event in my calendar, “February 14, 2014…House of Cards Season 2…All Day Event” And that’s all I could do. I was powerless.

This is when things got weird. It seemed that binge watching a new show, one that I couldn’t continue to consume to my hearts delight, woke up an old demon of mine: addiction. Thirteen hours of television gave me a welcomed extended departure from reality and I wasn’t ready to go home yet. I wanted more. But I couldn’t get more so I got frustrated. I got uncomfortable. I got pissy. I took it out on my boyfriend and several pints of Hagan Daaz chocolate peanut butter ice cream. My behavior wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t mature and it definitely wasn’t sober.

By the next day, I was fine. Well, after I apologized to the very kind man I’m dating and promised myself I’d hit the gym every day that week, I was fine. But I couldn’t ignore the effect that my consumption of House of Cards had on me. It disturbed me enough that I even shared about it at a couple of meetings. But I have battled my addictive tendencies and obsessive mind for many years now so I know how this thing works. Which is why I shouldn’t have been surprised when, on February 14, 2014, I did the exact same thing all over again. I mean, like Groundhog Day (the movie not the holiday). It was as if I had learned nothing! Cunning, baffling, powerful.

I swore I would pace it out, constantly reminding myself that there wouldn’t be a third season out until February 2015. But all that did was ruin the last two episodes for me. It was like the scalp rub portion of a massage; it feels good but you can’t enjoy it because you know any minute now, the whole thing will be over. And that’s the fuck of addiction; if you give it control, it gives you amnesia. It will lie to you in your own voice. It will tell you that you overreacted, that things will be different this time, that you can handle it. And then, when you end up in that same dark, uncomfortable, pissy place, it will laugh at you and blow down your house of cards.

So in the same respect that the Internet changed the way (and the amount) people watch porn, Netflix seems to be changing the way we watch TV. And I am confident neither one of these is a good thing. But it’s a real thing, it’s a happening thing and it will be yet another thing I hand over to my Higher Power and say, “Here, you deal with this. I’ve got calls to make.”

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.