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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tell Us What You See: Season 5 of “House of Cards”

It's creepy, and suggests rising dictatorship in time of crisis

In the eerie teaser trailer for the fifth season of the hit Netflix series House of Cards, Claire Underwood, the gorgeous and ruthless First Lady, implores viewers to “Tell us what you see:”

I’ve been meaning to talk with you…

Posted by House of Cards on Tuesday, May 16, 2017


“The president and I have a simple request: Tell us what you see. If anything in your environment strikes you as a bit odd, a bit off, pick up the phone. Whether it’s a package, or a person who seems out of place, we’d love you to let us know.”

Using familiar language usually reserved for friends inviting friends to a party or colleagues making a business request, Underwood asks citizens to spy on each other, ostensibly to avoid some great pending catastrophe. This misuse of language is, indeed as many observe, Orwellian.

There is another dystopian flavor to the teaser. Jitters and pixelation strike the video, implying it was made hastily during a crisis. It also reminds us of a signal that could be transmitted straight into someone’s brain, reminiscent of “hypnopaedia,” the type of hypnotic “moral education” from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Staying true to the show’s intention to be relevant to current events, the teaser alludes to “fake news” and a press that seeks to undermine government’s moral authority. Underwood warns, “There’s a lot of noise out there these days.”

Indeed, now, during the presidency of Donald Trump, the fifth season of House of Cards appears more ready than ever to fulfill the promise of its thrilling first (and still best) season as a story about an unstoppable D.C. power couple who regard the government and their subjects – err, citizens – as their very own.

  • Richard N. Lorenc is Chief Growth Officer of Iron Light, an award-winning strategic marketing firm specializing in helping purpose-driven brands change the world. He served at FEE from April 2013-November 2021, most recently as FEE's Executive Vice President.