The latest season of House of Cards is here, and boy, this Season 5 opener feels eerily like what life is like for Americans living under the Trump administration. As I watched the premiere, I couldn’t help but feel like there were some big connections to be made between the fictional political turmoil that was kicking into high gear in the Season 5 premiere and the various political events and news clogging our news feeds on a daily basis.
In the season premiere, we rejoin Frank and Claire Underwood in the middle of the election cycle. As they attempt to keep control of their own narrative (where some pretty dirty deeds lie waiting to be uncovered), they begin to stir the pot around the war on terror. As the nation demands this power couple do something to protect the nation while working for the people, the Underwoods find themselves under intense scrutiny by everyone around them. Sound like anyone you know?
Here are some of the biggest plot points I found that connect both House of Cards Season 5 and the Trump administration.
1. Election year drama
The Underwoods are in the middle of an intense election year as the drama unfolds around them in the Season 5 opener; we all remember how draining the 2016 election was, right? No words needed there.
2. The rise of fear-mongering about terrorist threats
Frank and Claire see a way to capitalize on the murmurs and threats of impending terrorist actions by privately stoking the fires while using that fire for their own benefit. This kind of fearmongering of “the other,” namely immigrants and minorities, has become a common tactic for President Trump.
3. Radicalized white men committing crimes on U.S. soil
While it was certainly not intended to be a direct real-life connection, the recent stabbing of three men in Portland by a male white supremacist feels eerily similar to the villains in the Season 5 opener: radicalized young white men who wish ill on the American people. Their actions in the show are undoubtedly bad, but it is the turning of the tables — that white men are truly evil and can be radicalized against the American people — that shakes me to my core.
4. Frank leaves Congress divided with threats of war
A bold power play is made by Frank in the cold-open of the Season 5 premiere. Breaking with traditional edicts on how Congress should operate when it’s in session, Frank appears at a meeting and demands he be listened to. As he reels off faux-patriotic threats against terrorism and further threatens retribution against those who hurt the Miller family and who seek to hurt the U.S., the Congress demands he follow the rules and exit the session. If anything, a flouting of any sort of democratic tradition or precedent has become all too common in the actions of President Trump and his administration.
5. Anti-Underwood sentiments feel similar to the Resistance
The Resistance, as it’s colloquially known, is a largely underground network of dissenting and disapproving Americans working to combat President Trump’s divisive, hateful or harmful policies, thus making it an arguably positive force in the U.S. In much the same way there is dissent for effective and positive change in America under Trump, on the House of Cards Season 5 premiere, there is a rising tide of dissent against President Underwood. The people at home and abroad loathe Frank’s tactics at combatting terrorism and they don’t hide it, instead burning effigies of Frank and carrying protest signs.
6. Investigative journalists vilified for their work
By now, Americans across this great nation have become accustomed to the vituperative phrase “fake news,” which is so readily lobbed at any kind of news story, often true stories, by dissenters. It is also used by President Trump in much the same fashion. Claire Underwood goes on a similar attack in besmirching investigative journalist and newspaper editor Tom Hammerschmidt as he actively tries to uncover the wrongdoings of the Underwoods.
7. Sexual misconduct and infidelity
Frank Underwood’s nose is certainly not clean when it comes to his previous extramarital dalliances, much like the allegations of sexual assault that sprung up around Trump during the 2016 election. Those kinds of allegations appear to haunt Frank and Claire’s marriage in House of Cards in Season 5 (as Claire carries on an affair with writer Thomas Yates), and they most likely still cast a pall around Trump’s presidency.
8. Frank Underwood proposes an immigrant ban
In a move which eerily echoed President Trump’s Muslim ban, Frank Underwood proposes an immigration ban following the surge in terrorist acts on American soil, including expanding the no-fly list and proposing greater restrictions on the kind of person who could be allowed through immigration. Scary.
9. Sanctimonious use of others’ tragedy for political gain
Frank uses the Miller family, recently held hostage and victimized by radicalized American terrorists, for his own personal justification for threats of war as well as to earn sympathy during his election campaign. It’s easy to connect those dots to President Trump’s almost perversely sanctimonious reliance on boilerplate yet false ideas about the reason the middle class is struggling and the underserved communities victimized by politicians.
10. Claire is reviled by the public
Claire Underwood is also doing some of her own scheming in the Season 5 premiere. Be it confronting the mother of a radicalized white American terrorist or staging a press-heavy appearance at a bombed-out gas station (believed to be a terrorist act), some people can see right through Claire’s attempts to look strong. It might be easy, then, to draw comparisons to any number of women in President Trumps orbit, like Kellyanne Conway (used to getting tough for her commander-in-chief) or Melania (imaginably used to sitting at her husband’s side without doing much of anything). Both of these real-life women have a low public opinion rates despite their best efforts to gain a positive foothold.
11. Frank Underwood is getting investigated by his own committee
Late in the Season 5 premiere, we learn that a committee Frank has ordered be put together will actually deviate from their original purpose and he will become the focus of the investigation for his shady actions. Lately, you may have also noticed that President Trump, his family and his closest cabinet members have come under severe scrutiny by the FBI and by a specialized committee for alleged ties to the Russian government.