ByGenevieve Van Voorhis, writer at
Game of Thrones, ASOUE, and all things '00s. Twitter: @gen_vanvee Email: [email protected]
Genevieve Van Voorhis

Spoiler Warning: Spoilers ahead for House of Cards Seasons 1 – 3 and Designated Survivor Season 1.

is painfully smart TV. It's so smart, it's borderline unbingeable. Look away for just a few minutes to pull your chicken nuggets out of the oven and you will probably miss a critical revelation or some pivotal subtext that makes the next scene even harder to understand than it already was.

If you crumbled on House of Cards sometime after Season 1 (like I did), but are still dying for your regular dose of political drama, don't worry. There is another, straight-forward, occasionally cheesy and highly bingeable alternative. Enter , the new ABC drama that the streaming gods have so generously made available on .

Here are the 6 reasons that Designated Survivor is better for binging than House of Cards.

1. The Characters Are Actually Likable

Left: Frank Underwood 'House of Cards' [Credit: Netflix] Right: Tom Kirkman 'Designated Survivor' [Credit: ABC]
Left: Frank Underwood 'House of Cards' [Credit: Netflix] Right: Tom Kirkman 'Designated Survivor' [Credit: ABC]

brilliantly portrays the power-grubbing, morally bankrupt Frank Underwood. His calculated cruelty and total lack of remorse are enough to turn your stomach. While the antihero is a terrifyingly effective storytelling device, sometimes you just want to root for a good guy, ya know? If they ever met, Frank Underwood would crush Tom Kirkman () like a play-dough figurine in a hydraulic press, but luckily it's never going to come to that. Tom Kirkman is a loving father and a good American that just wants to do right by his fellow patriots. He's a straight-forward, uncomplicated hero with good intentions and motivations that are easy to understand and support.

2. There's No Breaking The Fourth Wall

Anyone would be lucky to have a face-to-face chat with Kevin Spacey, yet somehow when his character does it on House of Cards, it can be totally cringey. Kiefer Sutherland/Tom Kirkman would never do that to you.

3. Everything Is Explained Very, Very Clearly

Catalan 'Designated Survivor' [Credit: ABC]
Catalan 'Designated Survivor' [Credit: ABC]

Whenever we see a some sort of visual evidence on the screen — like this photo of Catalan — a character is always nice enough to explain aloud what it is we're looking at, rather than leave us to put the pieces together ourselves. This makes Designated Survivor the perfect show to binge while you're feeding your lizards or knitting potholders or doing whatever you do around the house. If your attention gets diverted for a second, the show will reinforce everything eventually.

4. Emily And Aaron Are So Cute It Hurts

Emily and Aaron 'Designated Survivor' [Credit: ABC]
Emily and Aaron 'Designated Survivor' [Credit: ABC]

Not that Frank and Claire's threesome with their secret service agent wasn't hot, but there's something to be said for the super pure romance that has been brewing pretty obviously between Emily and Aaron since Day 1. Is it cheesy? Yes. Was it predictable? 100%. But it still gives us butterflies, and that's what counts.

5. Hannah Wells Is Way Cooler Than Zoe Barnes

Left: Zoe Barnes 'House of Cards' [Credit: Netflix] Right: Hannah Wells 'Designated Survivor' [Credit: ABC]
Left: Zoe Barnes 'House of Cards' [Credit: Netflix] Right: Hannah Wells 'Designated Survivor' [Credit: ABC]

Zoe Barnes might have been as unscrupulous as Frank Underwood, but there was still something about the determined young journalist that made you kind of root for her success. Or at least, you didn't really think she deserved to get shoved in front of a train. But what Zoe lacked in maturity, ethics, and staying power, Hannah Wells has in spades. The FBI agent goes rogue to keep researching who is behind the Capitol bombing. After she walked away from a car accident and an attempt on her life, you get the idea that Wells would have dragged herself out from under the train and gone on being a badass defender of justice until the very end.

6. The Drama Runs High About 90% Of The Time

'Designated Survivor' [Credit: ABC]
'Designated Survivor' [Credit: ABC]

Frank Underwood knows how to throw a curve ball to keep us entertained — usually in the form of offing characters that try to get in his way — but in between episodes of sheer evil, he and Claire tend to have a lot of boring conversations that make no sense until 30 minutes later, and it can be easy to lose interest. In contrast, the high stakes and energy of Designated Survivor make it easy to get sucked in. Tom Kirkman's White House is basically the White House we all like to pretend exists. Every day, President Kirkman wakes up after a ridiculously short night's sleep and his dreamy Chief of Staff Aaron Shore (Adan Canto) informs him of between one and three major international emergencies that need to get solved ASAP. Everything is dire and everything is of the utmost importance, and there's usually some sort of positive conclusion by the end of the work day.


What do you think of 'Designated Survivor'?

The second half of Designated Survivor will air in March 2017. Check out the preview below:


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