A Writer Bingeing but Not on Books

I have a confession to make: I’ve been bingeing. Yes, at the ripe old age of 68, I’ve been binging…not wine, not even beer, or donuts…I’ve been binging on “House of Cards.” And I have my daughter to blame.

House-of-Cards - Frank
Image from Netflix

Heather got me hooked. She watched all three seasons on a weekend. She started binging on shows a few years ago when she watched two seasons of “Lost” over two days. My daughter, who’d said, “I’m not going to watch that,” was hooked.

Bingeing on a show that can be easily viewed on your computer or television has become the new way to watch programs. If you’ve missed a great show when it was televised, you DVR it, or get it on disc, and just watch from the beginning.

But H of C is one of those “new” type of shows…it’s not on any television station. It’s on Netflix. Netflix and Amazon (gasp! The Evil Empire) are developing and producing their own shows. And sometimes they even pick-up television programs that the “regular” networks have canceled. Luckily for my husband “Longmire” was captured on the rebound by Netflix.

Bingeing keeps you right in the story and makes you even more involved with the characters. I’ve yet to see Claire or Francis in one of my dreams but I know that’s coming. I’ve become totally invested in the story and the characters.

So what does this mean for a writer?

I’m following the character arcs of Francis and Claire Underwood and I’ve seen their development over two days, not two or three seasons. No, I wouldn’t vote for Francis but I love his tenacity (even the illegal parts). He often “breaks the Fourth Wall” and talks to the audience. After one episode when both he and Claire had major disappointments, he sat on Air Force One, brooding. Suddenly he turns to the camera and says angrily, “What are you looking at?” I gasped. I was so involved with the story and the character that I actually felt he was talking directly to me and only me.

And the only thing I can say about Claire…well, pictures are worth 1000 words:

HofC claire-underwood-blood
Shakespeare would have loved her…in fact, he did, as Lady Macbeth – Image: Netflix

While Francis’s machinations are laid out for the viewer, Claire’s are a bit more…er, subtle. That’s not only great writing…the writing that puts the viewer in  the scene …but it’s also great acting. My admiration for Kevin Spacey (and Robin Wright and Michael Kelly) has increased over the last two days.

While I binge on the overall story, I’m also binging on how the writers “set up” the viewer. The storyline brings you along and you think one thing is going to happen and then…bang! You get hit with something you didn’t expect. Without spoiling any plot twists, I will say that there were many times I gasped during these last two days.

So I suggest you find a show…read reviews or talk to friends and family.

And then set aside some time for your own bingeing.

Make sure you get up and move around between shows (or Chapters as H of C calls them).

Keep yourself well-hydrated (like the President of Russia told Francis Underwood when they met on the Jordan plain).

Even have a notebook with you so you can jot down thoughts or interesting quotes. You know the writing is great when you want to save a character’s quotes:

“Imagination is its own form of courage.”  Francis J. Underwood, President

And just enjoy the ride, even if it’s not in Air Force One.

h of c quote2
Yes, Francis, this is something I’ve used to my advantage.

 

 

 


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