"If you speak of a hero purely in moralistic terms, then I guess Francis is an antihero," says Willimon. "Yet at the same time, what he offers you is something a lot of the goody two-shoes don't, which is absolute honesty. And I think that's as refreshing as it is delicious."
To watch Francis's wiles is addictive, so luckily for viewers, the show's entire first season will be available for instant streaming for Netflix subscribers.
"We'd always talked about it as though it were a 13-hour movie," say Willimon, even though Netflix did not decide on the "binge-watch" model until much of the work on the show had been done. In the press preview, each episode picks up exactly where the last left off, with only the opening credits—a stunning sequence of Washington time-lapses—breaking up the momentum.
"I think audiences are growing more and more to expect that they have complete control of their viewing experiences, that's the direction things are headed, so why not give it to them?"
Netflix also guaranteed two seasons, giving the filmmakers plenty of room to untangle House of Cards's intricate narrative. Though completed months ago, early episodes take a Chuck Hagel-ian twist: a plot line emerges about a Cabinet nominee whose confirmation is thrown in to disarray after accusations of anti-Semitism. "It's eerie, I wish I could claim that we were prophetic. We got lucky," says Willimon, quickly clarifying, "Well, it's not lucky for Obama or the country per se."
"We're looking at history, were looking at what's happening now, and we try the best we can to perceive where things might be going. But our goal is never to rip things from the headlines or try to comment in any way specifically something happening in the here and now," he says. "Sometimes things just align."
House of Cards will be available for Netflix members to stream instantly beginning February 1.
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Updated on 1/29/2013: This story have been updated to reflect that House of Cards was produced by Media Rights Capital.