Mandatory TV Battles: Who Plays Dirtier? ‘Succession’ vs. ‘House of Cards’

We all want to be significant in this life. More often than not, instead of chasing altruistic meaning, existential ambition leads to an obsession with power—it feels so fucking good. Power correlates with money, sex, and influence. Netflix’s political drama, House of Cards, dealt with this sort of behavioral fuckery to a maddening degree. Watching Frank and Claire Underwood perpetually lie, manipulate, and kill to maintain their status quo was cathartic and disconcerting. If people are that horrible in the upper echelons of Washington, it might be wiser to stick to the private sector.

Ironically, the same year House of Cards aired its finale, Succession premiered on HBO. The Shakespearean satire that is Succession painted just as deplorable a portrait of prestige and power; this time following an international media conglomerate and the family that controls it. Whether it be the Underwoods or the Roys, if you’re going up against either, you best believe they’re playing by their own set of rules. Rules that would be considered dirty from a peasant’s point of view. That said, which group’s uncompromising and cold lust for power tramples the other? Let’s find out.

Cover Photo: HBO/Netflix

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Bill Clinton once said, “99 percent of what [is done] on [House of Cards] is real. The 1 percent [they] get wrong is you could never get an education bill passed that fast.” We hope that’s not true. Dirty might not even be the right adjective; the Underwoods play filthy. The depravity of politicians craving immortality is unparalleled. Vanity and superficial cravings can be curbed, but the desire to build a lasting legacy (or a precarious house of cards) cannot be mitigated. The Underwoods don’t care what people think — public opinion is important only as a variable to be manipulated. While this is partially true for the Roys, they don’t have the ambition, drive, or smarts of the Underwoods.

Overall Winner: House of Cards

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