Francis J. Underwood famously worked his way from Congressman to President in record time and remains one of the most devious Presidents in United States history. As bad as this seems, it’s worse to admit that you want this to be real life instead of a TV show. After 5 seasons, Netflix’ House of Cards remains one the of the top rated and viewed TV shows in the world. With over 190 nominations and 29 wins ranging from Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama, to Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) (IMDB) this show covers all of its bases in realism and entertainment. This show is in fact so relatable and realistic that Kevin Spacey took to the streets with former chief official White House photographer for President Obama as well as Ronald Reagan, Pete Souza.
The benefit of creating a world that seems so real is that you can mimic it in real life. The House of Cards team did just that by having Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey and Doug Stamper, played by Michael Kelly walk around Washington, D.C. while photographer Pete Souza took “candid” shots of them interacting with the public. This was a stunt that was part of their ad campaign to promote their upcoming season of House of Cards. I will remind you of how realistic this show is by reiterating that the photographer they used to take these pictures did it for ACTUAL presidents, and he probably took photos of them doing the exact same thing as Francis Underwood is seen doing. Additional pictures reveal Spacey and Kelly in popular locations around the Washington D.C. area sometimes surrounded by Secret Service or ecstatic looking Americans.
Regardless of its legitimacy, this ad campaign is genius because it connects to the average American viewer by suggesting that a vote for House of Cards is a vote for time well spent. This is not the first promotional stunt House of Cards has done however. These picture follow the unveiling of the “official presidential portrait” of Francis J. Underwood. The unveiling occurred a year prior and included members of the White House press corps, Gallery Director Kim Sajet, and other REAL White House officials.
A week before season four premiered, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery which houses a complete set of presidential portraits unvieled a beautiful six-by-six foot portrait of President Francis Underwood, which emulates portraits of actual U.S. Presidents. Kevin Spacey actually was there and posed for the unveiling as is tradition for Presidents. The broad brush strokes in the background reveal a U.S. flag, a large desk, and curved windows which suggest that Spacey is sitting in the Oval Office. “For me what makes it so satisfying is when I look at the portrait and I don’t see myself, I see the character,” Spacey says. Spacey is Underwood and Underwood is Spacey. They are one in the same and that is what makes the show so memorable.
Often times, it is not the material that matters in campaigns, but the hype that surrounds it. In the 1960 Presidential election, John F. Kennedy beat Republican opponent Richard Nixon not by being more experienced or dedicated, but by his image. He had a personal photographer follow him around constantly taking pictures and letting the public see the best ones. He plastered these everywhere and the public bought it because he looked humble, appealing, and approachable. The people loved him and he loved them for it.