We're just over a month out from the debut of House of Cards season 4, but Netflix is apparently so pleased with what's coming that the streaming giant has opted to renew its flagship original drama for a fifth year. This type of early renewal has become fairly common practice in the world of subscription television, with a good example being House of Cards' season 3 pick-up coming prior to the series' second season debut. Unfortunately, not all is happy in Netflix's fictional Washington, D.C.
While fans may well be overjoyed to learn that they'll be getting another year of President Frank Underwood lying, backstabbing, and sometimes even murdering to further his quest for political power, one man who probably isn't so happy right now is House of Cards creator Beau Willimon. A playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter, Willimon has been the guiding force behind House of Cards since the beginning, adapting and modernizing the story and concept from a 1990 BBC miniseries of the same name for American audiences. Willimon has personally written or co-written nearly two dozen episodes of House of Cards to date, and will presumably add more to that tally during season 4.
The statements put out by both Netflix and Willimon are the standard "it was a pleasure working with you, good luck with your future endeavors" type of platitudes, but a report by Deadline suggests that things aren't quite that simple. Willimon is reportedly not exiting House of Cards of his own free will, apparently due to some kind of ongoing issue with the series' production that Netflix is laying at the creator and showrunner's feet. Thankfully, this looks unlikely to escalate into the kind of acrimonious situation currently playing out between AMC and original Walking Dead helmsman Frank Darabont, as Netflix and production house Media Rights Capital plan to continue for compensate Willimon for his many contributions to House of Cards.
A replacement for Willimon has yet to be named, leaving House of Cards' creative future uncertain. That said, the series boasts a large team of executive producers, including powerhouse director David Fincher. It stands to reason that a member of that line-up could take over as showrunner going forward, although there are no early indications as to who would be the most likely successor.
Fincher would certainly be the most high-profile candidate of the group, but has no experience running a TV series, and is already working with Netflix and actress Charlize Theron to develop a different original drama for the platform. Plus, there are also the time constraints of Fincher's ongoing career as a film director to consider. Of course, there's a chance Netflix will choose to go a completely different route and bring someone in from the outside. The sooner this question gets answered, the sooner the world will get a better idea of what path House of Cards season 5 is headed down. Netflix better get a move on though. Frank Underwood is not a man to be kept waiting.
House of Cards season 4 hits Netflix in its entirety on March 4th, 2016. Season 5 will arrive in 2017.