All of a sudden, the presidential drama finds itself tragically behind the curve. What a pity it would have been so subversive if Hillary Clinton had won WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
As the House of Representatives begins an investigation that may lead to the presidents impeachment, a congressman waves a newspaper with a headline denouncing the occupant of the Oval Office as a corrupt scoundrel unfit for power.
Suddenly, the commander-in-chief strides into the chamber and demands to address the assembly. Mr President, this is beyond the norm! objects a politician who has read the constitution. I dont care! roars the world leader, bristling under his bizarre hairpiece.
Seven months ago, this scenario which opens the fifth series of House of Cards, released on Netflix yesterday would have been just another outrageous imagining of what might happen if the US got a president with total contempt for political convention.
House of Cards has always had a complex relationship with topicality. Oddly, President Underwood still tends to learn about leaks and scandals by reading the fictional Washington Herald delivered to him as a crisp print edition every morning, rather than as breaking news on a website. Generally, though, the shows setting was a more cruel American future or alternative present, until, under the Trump presidency, its suddenly behind the curve.
The show does score some impressive direct hits on his administration though: Underwood radically reduces the number of White House briefings, concluding that the best statement is no statement, just as Trump did on the day the new series was released.
But the problem now is that Kevin Spaceys Frank Underwood seems almost Lincoln-like by real-life standards. In this series, Underwood is threatened with removal and accused of being overly close to the Russian president. But a show that was once a fantastical what-if now feels like watching a satire long after the news has moved on.