Deep in the throes of Spacey-gate, Netflix is figuring out how to move forward with House of Cards. The network already announced that next season will be the show’s last, stressing that the decision to ax the political drama came months before Kevin Spacey’s badual misconduct scandal broke—though the announcement came just one day after Spacey was accused of badually pursuing a teenager. Now word is out that Netflix is also considering a more traditional Hollywood fix—a spin-off.
Variety reports that the streaming service has been mulling over ways to keep the franchise going after the House of Cards finale, and a spin-off set in the same political world might be the way to go. If Netflix does go forward with a spin-off, it would be a first for the platform.
One potential idea, per Variety? A follow-up series about Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), Francis Underwood’s loyal henchman with outrageously thick eyebrows. The series would be penned by Eric Roth, who produced the first four seasons of Cards before decamping to TNT’s The Alienist. There are at least two more spin-off ideas in the works as well, but further details about them are still under wraps. Netflix is clearly hoping to go the Game of Thrones route on this one; HBO will also launch a spin-off after its flagship fantasy series ends, and has tapped several teams of writers to come up with competing ideas.
Of course, to anyone who’s kept up with Cards, a series about Stamper doesn’t instantly inspire excitement. Stamper was a fascinating cipher of evil in the show’s first season, a quiet right-hand man who cleaned up all of his boss’s messes. But things got messier once we began to learn about the man behind the grimace. Remember all of Season 2, when Doug grew obsessed with Rachel Posner, using her as a stand-in for his strange Oedipus complex? Remember Season 3, when he was Sad Doug . . . then killed Rachel? Sure, Doug is a scarily good fixer—but he’s also a hot mess of a human being, and we have enough of those on television already.
If Cards really wants to activate the fanbase, it should consider instead a spin-off focused on Claire Underwood, the stone-cold modern-day Lady Macbeth played by Robin Wright. Just imagine her Dallas-based origin story! Young Claire, shopping for elegant pantsuits. Young Claire, intimidating men with her perfect posture and swan-like neck. Young Claire, standing in front of the mirror and practicing lines like, “I’m willing to let your child wither and die inside you.”
Or how about a Remy Danton spin-off, where we just watch Mahershala Ali sip finely aged bourbon and put on crisply tailored suits? Or a series called Gavin and Cashew, in which the computer hacker pals around with his precious pet guinea pig? Or Freddy’s BBQ Joint, where Freddy Hayes talks about whatever he wants, then sits down to a nice rack of ribs? Or Talking Cards, a series where Chris Hardwick rewatches every episode and then rehashes it in his best Foghorn Leghorn voice? Just kidding; nobody wants that, not even Hardwick.
In all seriousness, Netflix is in a serious bind as a result of the Spacey controversy. On Sunday, actor Anthony Rapp accused the Cards star of drunkenly making an inappropriate badual advance toward him back in 1986. At the time, Rapp was 14, and Spacey was 26. Spacey quickly released an apologetic statement in response, though he said he does not remember the incident. He also came out as gay in the same statement, a decision that has been slammed by GLAAD, as well as stars like Billy Eichner and Zachary Quinto.
Netflix, along with Media Rights Capital, released a statement on Monday addressing the enveloping scandal:
“Media Rights Capital and Netflix are deeply troubled by last night’s news concerning Kevin Spacey. In response to last night’s revelations, executives from both of our companies arrived in Baltimore this afternoon to meet with our cast and crew to ensure that they continue to feel safe and supported. As previously scheduled, Kevin Spacey is not working on set at this time.”
Their comment came shortly after news broke that the sixth season of House of Cards, currently in production, would be the show’s last. It’s unclear what Spacey’s involvement will be going forward, but it is clear that Netflix is still very invested in the Cards universe—with or without Spacey.
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