“They’ll always compare us, not just to Bill and Hillary, but lots of political couples.” Both actors, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, have unremittingly denied any parallels between their onscreen power couple, the Underwoods, with real life power couple, the Clintons (very strange way to refer to them as).
However, it’s a resemblance that even Michael Dobbs has admitted is worthy of a connection. Lord Hobbs, of course, wrote the original book series that both the British and American television series are based on. And, of course, Lord Dobbs did not write the Urquharts (book version of the Underwoods) with the Clintons in mind. However, Lord Dobbs states that Hillary Clinton is “…a political figure in her own right – behind the scenes, but now increasingly in front of the scenes. That is much more of a Claire character.”
According to Emmy nominee Robin Wright, the series has taken some inspiration from several political couples, the Clintons included, but she believes that if any person had to be named as influential on her character, it would have to be Jackie Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy, just like Claire Underwood, is a fashion icon with particular wardrobe colors chosen for detailed reasons. However, one cannot challenge the nearly homogenous parallels between Bill and Hillary Clinton, and their onscreen counterparts.
Who Said It: "There's a difference between fair game and playing games."
Let us begin with the obvious connections— when Bill Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States, he told a minor public lie about having an affair with a White House intern. Frank Underwood, the 46th President of the United States, has had several affairs. Now, none of these have been made public, but do you honestly believe that if President Underwood had to publicly address this, he would tell the truth about it? Both the Clintons and the Underwoods are southern Democrats, a rarity in of itself, their main objective in winning the hearts of the American voters is to play up their blue collar facets. However, a facet is merely defined as a surface— what is underneath the surface could be as abominable as what the Underwoods have at their core.
President Underwood’s America Works plan was actually not that bad of an idea. It was established to provide jobs for the American people. The plan entails cutting social security, medicare, welfare, and FEMA to provide sustainable job opportunities. It was something that administered more than ten million jobs before it had to be seized by Underwood for natural disaster purposes.
When President Clinton took office in 1993, the country was in a massive deficit. By the end of his term in 2001, there was surplus of almost 130 billion. It was something that Clinton took full credit for, even accepting a coined term called "clintomics". Many people believe it was because the Democrats and Republicans in congress could not agree on what to spend the surplus on (when could they ever). So, the money sat there for the entire time (the one time we were glad a disagreement took place). Either way, it provided an increase in job opportunities and President Clinton led the country to it.
Who Said It: "We don't barter goodwill for the freedom of the American citizens."
If Frank Underwood personifies the fundamental Machiavellian principles, than Claire Underwood completely owns the Lady Macbeth ones. She is just as sinister and cunning as Francis, but because it is only he that breaks the fourth wall, much of her conniving deals are left to remain in the shadows.
The show is hesitant to acknowledge any corollaries between the two marriages, but there are no qualms in allowing comparisons between their fictional President of Russia, Viktor Petrov, and his real life counter part, Vladimir Putin, to take the forefront (I mean, the initials should be enough of an indication). The relationship between Secretary Clinton and President Putin has been, to put it in Clinton’s single-word description— “interesting.” Petrov is a bully and fears no conscious issues of standing his ground to even his most powerful opponents. He spends days “negotiating” the release of a gay American man in his prisons with Frank. This, by no means, does not portray as a man of blatant disrespect. He has the utmost admiration for the Underwoods, particularly Claire, but he is just a pompous man with an appetite that growls for more.
“It’s one, I think, of respect. We’ve had some tough dealings with one another. And I know that he’s someone that you have to continually stand up to because, like many bullies, he is somebody who will take as much as he possibly can unless you do.” No joke— this is a direct quote from Secretary Clinton. Their “tough dealings” are further put into the limelight in Season 4, when Claire is forced to take over for Francis and go to Russia to discuss the country’s economy with a man more stubborn than his country’s cold weather.
Who Said It: "If you don't like how the table is set, turn over the table."
Both First Ladies were appointed to government official positions by their Presidential husbands. Hillary Clinton was in charge of the doomed Clinton Healthcare Plan that was such a disaster that she was taken off it and put on another Task Force assignment of the Clinton Administration. While Claire Underwood was appointed to U.S. Ambassador of the United Nations, despite no prior qualifications. Both ended horribly and put both women on trial. (Side Note: In House of Cards fashion, for a different trial, U.N. Official John Ashe died in a freak accident the day he was scheduled to be interviewed by Hillary Clinton just this year.)
Corruption in politics is never ending. House of Cards is renowned by now for not shying away from it. It is something that even former President Bill Clinton has stated is “…99% true.” Hopefully, the parallels stop at those public accomplishments and embarrassments— and their personal lives are no more interesting for the wrong reasons. The show's creators have invariably denied the similarities, however, the connections between the two marriages is one of persistent valor (come on, you honestly don’t think that Hillary Clinton hasn’t dreamed of being president since birth), as well as one of some genuine concerns of shady backroom deliberations. As the campaign continues, expect a lot of media outlets and political pundits to throw in their two cents about these “backroom deliberations.”
Or just remember, if you cannot make the unbearable decision between Clinton or Trump, you can always vote Jill Stein, and make history twice over.