Stars: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara, Michael Kelly, Sakina Jaffrey, Kristen Connolly, Constance Zimmer, Michel Gill, Mahershala Ali, Molly Parker

House of Cards is the Kevin Spacey-led political drama that skyrocketed Netflix original shows into the national spotlight. Produced by Beau Willimon and based on a BBC mini-series of the same name, House of Cards became a hit last year with its first season, and it was an even bigger sensation with its sophomore season this year. The show centers around Frank Underwood, a jilted politician who swears revenge upon those who wronged him and manipulates the game to take over Washington. At his side is his wife Claire Underwood, portrayed with cold grace by Robin Wright, and his right-hand man Doug Stamper, played by Michael Kelly.

Things are never quite as they seem on House of Cards, and the show has no qualms about revealing the gritty underbelly of the political world. The machinations, backdoor dealings, and downright illegalities are merely scratches on the surface. The series is chock-full of lies, deceit, lust, and bloody murder. The show could easily fall into the trap of conventionality and campiness, but subtle, nuanced portrayals by talented actors like Spacey combined with bold artistic moves by the show’s creators elevate House of Cards to something greater.

It’s not entertainment for the faint of heart, but if you want a nail-biter, screw-with-your-head kind of show, then House of Cards is right up your alley. (Warning: Proceed with caution down that dark alley lest you be stabbed in the back.) —Rachel Sheldon