House of Cards, Netflix's flagship political drama, will end its run with its upcoming sixth season. The announcement comes as series star Kevin Spacey finds himself embroiled in allegations of attempted sexual assault against Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp when the latter was 14 years old.
House of Cards, an adaptation of a classic British series, launched Netflix's slate of original streaming content when it debuted in 2013. Produced by The Social Network director David Fincher and buoyed by legitimate A-list movie stars like Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara, the series immediately propelled the burgeoning streaming behemoth into a major player in the realm of prestige television, setting the stage for hit shows like Orange Is The New Black and Stranger Things. Spacey's performance as the amoral, fourth wall breaking Frank Underwood became iconic, and while the show's critical reception has declined over the years, it's still one of Netflix's marquee shows.
But it appears time has run out for the Underwood administration. Per THR, the currently in production sixth season was planned to be the show's last. The show has reached a point creatively where there aren't many avenues left to pursue, so this seems like a reasonable assertion, but the timing is, to put it mildly, curious.
The report comes a day after Buzzfeed published a story in which Anthony Rapp alleges Spacey attempted to seduce him at a party in 1986, when the Star Trek: Discovery actor was a 14 year old just getting his start on Broadway. Spacey's response - in which he claims to have no memory of the event and used it as an excuse to publicly come out as gay - has been roundly criticized as tone deaf and sending the absolute wrong message about the cultural of sexual predation in Hollywood that has exploded in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Netflix likely caught a break if season 6 really was already planned as the end of House of Cards, as continuing to work with Spacey after this would have been a difficult prospect. New allegations about Spacey's behavior have begun to bubble up, and even House of Cards' creator Beau Willimon has expressed his shock and disgust with the allegations. It seems unlikely this is the end of the controversy for Spacey. It's unquestionably a good thing that survivors of sexual assault by powerful people are finally beginning to feel safe enough to tell their stories. It's a shame that Spacey's behavior has not only hurt individuals like Rapp, but has almost certainly sullied the legacy of Netflix's first creative triumph.