I have a degree in theatre. I've studied the history, I understand the mechanisms, and I know what it is supposed to do.
House of Cards isn't theatre. It's sado-masochism. Or.... a parody of a Judeo-Catholic guilt-trip. At the very best, it's narcissistic masturbation.
The show is getting rave reviews all over the place, so maybe it's just me, but... If every character suddenly contracted Ebola and died in the season finale (I'm only at s02e12), my initial reaction would most likely be... to check EZTV to see when the new season of Arrow starts.
There is not a single likable character on the show. None. Zoe was building up to be someone the audience could empathize and sympathize with.... so they threw her under the
bus train. The good-hearted senator who turned his life around? Threw away a year of sobriety for some random woman (at a high-profile government function!!) then killed himself.
If prodded to elicit a charged emotional response, I'd have to say...
Underwood is a manipulative ass-hat I want to see rot in prison. Just a plain old boring prison cell. Without a rowing machine.
Clair is a manipulative bitch I want to see beaten to death by a gang of j-pop inspired pre-pubescent girls riding neon-enhanced electric scooters. Because they like her shoes.
Doug is an abuser who should fall off the wagon and kill himself in bathtub. Preferably while using Powerpuff Girls bubble bath and wearing a Wonder Woman tiara.
Rachel is a pathetic nobody that should wander off to an opium den (do we still have opium dens? We really should. They're an integral part of our culture.) and "bang the gong" until she's less annoying than the throw pillows I still have from the dumpster-rescued couch I had in college.
And the rest of them.... Umm.... to-the-death naked mud-wrestling with a lightsaber? Throw a sapient Live Doll and a demonically-possessed Furbie into the mix, and I might be convinced to care about the outcome. Assuming my cat isn't doing something cute or my goldfish isn't distracting me by lazily swimming from one side of the bowl to the other.