The love between Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire (Robin Wright) on House of Cards is palpable. What’s unnerving is that their connection feels downright lethal to everyone who isn’t them.
Yet House of Cards fans seem to agree, for now at least, that the Underwood union is rock-solid. They share love and mutual respect, but other quintessential pillars of marriage are deliciously absent. They seem to have taken a set of entirely different vows.
1. Cheating is A-OK
While they don’t come right out and admit their hook-ups, Frank and Claire both seem alarmingly comfortable with lies of omission. Claire moves in with an old beau for days on end and slips back into their brownstone with barely a raised eyebrow from Frank. He gets in bed, literally, with a hungry young reporter and Claire welcomes him home with a glass of wine.
2. Let’s bring out the worst in each other
I can’t help but drag out the old chicken and the egg here. Who came first? Dark and twisted Frank or dark and twisted Claire? And if they had joined anyone else at the altar, would either of them have ended up quite as nefarious? The whole here feels eerily greater than the sum of its parts.
3. In sickness and in sickness
Sure, Frank and Claire lace up their running shoes and blow off steam now and then, but that white, puffy stuff that lingers is pure nicotine. What do the lovebirds seem to have and to hold most dear? Their evening windowsill smoke-fests.
4. 1 Corinthians: The greatest of these is love power
Not faith. Not hope. Not even love abides first and foremost in the Underwood marriage. These two bring new meaning to the term “power couple.” They eat nails for breakfast (unless Frank’s already had a hefty portion of ribs. Now that I think about it, the way he attacks that animal flesh is very telling).
5. Do not go forth and multiply
Frank went on record to announce that he despised children. Claire refused a pregnant employee health insurance. With three abortions in her past and nothing more sexual onscreen between them than a threesome with Frank’s bodyguard, repopulating the earth is not in this house of cards.
6. Don’t go to bed angry — unless you’re with someone else
All bets are off when one of Frank’s crises trumps a mission of Claire’s. When Frank’s Watershed Act appeared to be failing, she was expected to drop her nonprofit work for the Sudan and do whatever it took to help her man out. Instead, she took off for several days and nights to romp with her lover to teach Frank who is boss.
7. Keep all the secrets you like
Clearly the Underwoods feel that transparency leaves too little to the imagination. (Or do all of their frank discussions take place off-camera?) Their intimacy doesn’t come from sharing truths, but from hoarding them and doling out little tidbits on a need-to-know-because-I-need-your-help basis.
8. Check your sense of humor at the door
Sure, Frank and Claire smile once in a while. But if you look closely, it’s the lips that are doing all the work — the eyes are as intense as ever. Nary a scoff or a chuckle cut through the super-charged energy that follows them around like a dog, if only they had one. Some people laugh all the way to the bank. The Underwoods have a different destination in mind and, apparently, are conserving their energy.