The House of Cards Hypothesis: Why the British Get Washington Better Than Hollywood Does

There are advantages to having your political and cultural capitals in the same city.

Yes, the British are coming. And they’ve already taken over the capital—at least on TV.

Shows and films set in Washington have undergone a dramatic revolution. Gone are the starry-eyed days of The West Wing and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. In are the Machiavellian intrigues on House of Cards, the blundering characters on Veep, and the scandals on, well, Scandal. This shift reflects the viewing habits of a more disillusioned American public as well as the sensibilities of millennials (the Girls generation doesn’t do feel-good).

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