A romantic night awaits 'House of Cards' binge-watching couples

Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:00pm EST
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By Lisa Lambert and Lisa Richwine

WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - On this Valentine's Day, some couples will enter a committed relationship, but it might end up lasting a mere 13 hours.

That's the time it would take to binge-watch the 13 episodes of the second season of "House of Cards," the Emmy Award-winning political thriller from Netflix Inc released on the online streaming service on Friday.

Chicago-based retail manager Rachael Wrenn said that she and husband James did not watch the first season right when it came out, but she found it later on Netflix and turned him onto the show.

"And he just loves that show now," Wrenn said. "And so when we found out it was coming out today, he decided these are our Valentine's plans. And I was definitely on board with it."

Starring Kevin Spacey as the underhanded Congressman Francis Underwood, "House of Cards" last year put a new twist on the binge-watching trend in television because Netflix, in its big push to offer original programming, makes all the season episodes available at once.

Spacey and Robin Wright, who plays his cool-as-ice wife and partner in boundless political ambition, gave very little away about the season in their media presentation. The first episode included a shocking, sudden twist that sparked gasps from an audience at a Los Angeles screening Thursday night, a few hours before the show's release on Netflix.

Within minutes of its release, "House of Cards" ranked among the most-viewed shows on Netflix around the world, spokesman Joris Evers said. The company does not release viewership figures for its shows, much to the dismay of its TV network competitors.

The second season garnered positive reviews early Friday. New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley said, "It's hard not to feel giddy delight at the first sight of those emblematic clouds rolling across the landscape of the nation's capital and plunging the city into a Stygian gloom."   Continued...

Cast member Kate Mara poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series "House of Cards" at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, California February 13, 2014. Season 2 premieres on Netflix on February 14. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni