Netflix has renewed its Emmy-award-winning original political drama House of Cards for a fifth season, even before Season 4 premieres on March 4.
Showrunner Beau Willimon (the screenwriter who in the past worked on several high-profile Democrat political campaigns) won’t return, however. Netflix has yet to name a successor, although presumably one of the series’ many executive producers will take over.
The quick and unusual 2017 renewal announcement (which in the TV universe typically happens only after the current season ends) is a surprise, considering how the quality of the series declined substantially in Season 3 according to many critics, with an excessive amount of soap opera filler and hard-to-believe and amateurish plot points.
A favorite for many binge watchers at least through its first two 13-episode seasons, House of Cards released a teaser trailer this week in the run-up to Season 4.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, ex-showrunner Willimon is going to spend his time writing a play rather than continue as the boss of House of Cards.
In general, showrunner departures usually revolve around creative and/or financial disputes with producers or the network itself, however.
If you haven’t seen the show, House of Cards stars Kevin Spacey as Francis “Frank” Underwood, a corrupt, conniving, and vengeful Democrat U.S. Congressman from South Carolina who — with the help of his equally power-hungry wife Claire (Robin Wright) — over the course of the prior three seasons intrigued his way into the presidency. The ongoing storyline chronicles his 2016 reelection bid.
In its basic premise and certain plot elements, House of Cards is a remake of the BBC miniseries of the same name (and its two follow-ups, To Play the King and The Final Cut). The U.K. original starred the late Ian Richardson as devious British politician Francis Urquhart who similarly manipulates his way to becoming the country’s prime minister.
In a statement, Netflix praised the stewardship of exiting Beau Willimon on House of Cards.
“Netflix and MRC owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Beau Willimon for his strong narrative vision for House of Cards over the show’s first four seasons. As an Academy Award-nominated writer, he made his first foray into television and built a riveting and critically acclaimed series, establishing his place in TV history. The producers, cast and crew join us in wishing Beau the best in his next creative adventure.”
Said Willimon about his departure, “I’m grateful to Netflix and MRC, my fellow executive producers, our two incandescent stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, our talented writers, as well as the incredible cast and crew with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. After five years and four seasons, it’s time for me to move on to new endeavors, but I’m supremely proud of what we’ve built together, wish the show much continued success, and leave it in the hands of a very capable team.”
House of Cards will continue to shoot episodes in Maryland, where it receives significant taxpayer-funded incentives, and which in the past it has used as a bargaining chip against the state. “In the current fiscal year that runs through June 30, the House of Cards team is receiving $2 million in film production tax credits, out of a total pot of $7.5 million. The rest went to HBO’s Veep, which left Maryland last year to set up shop in California,” the Baltimore Sun explained.
Are you looking forward to Season 4 and 5 of House of Cards, with or without the current showrunner?
[Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP]