After revealing that House of Cards, Netflix’s first and longest-running original drama series, would end in 2018 with its sixth season, Netflix and House of Cards production studio Media Rights Capital have since suspended production to look into the newly reported sexual harassment and assault allegations against star Kevin Spacey. Netflix has further stated that it will “evaluate our path forward” so far as the show’s futures goes.
According to reporter Lesley Goldberg, the decision to end House of Cards was made “months ago,” but the announcement nevertheless raised eyebrows for its timing. The news came less than 24 hours after Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp came forward with allegations against House of Cards star Kevin Spacey, telling BuzzFeed that Spacey sexually assaulted him when Rapp was 14 years old. Shortly thereafter, Spacey released a statement in which he claimed not to remember the incident and then formally came out as gay.
The disturbing allegation and Spacey’s bizarre attempt at an apology have gotten widespread attention and condemnation, respectively. In response to Vox’s request for comment on the allegations against Spacey, Netflix and Media Rights Capital gave the following statement:
Media Rights Capital and Netflix are deeply troubled by last night’s news concerning Kevin Spacey. In response to last night’s revelations, executives from both of our companies arrived in Baltimore this afternoon to meet with our cast and crew to ensure that they continue to feel safe and supported. As previously scheduled, Kevin Spacey is not working on set at this time.
The next day, they released another statement saying they decided to suspend production to “review the current situation.”
House of Cards was already clearly headed for an end point, its fifth season concluding with Robin Wright's Claire Underwood ascending to the Oval Office while refusing to pardon Spacey’s Frank Underwood for the crimes he had been accused of, thus setting up what looked like a climactic, long-teased battle between husband and wife. (Such a conflict would parallel some of the elements of the British original. The original series' climax now seems all but certain to play into how the Netflix series ends, given the accusations against Spacey.)
But it’s also not hard to see how that basic story could have fueled two seasons of increasingly turgid soap operatics. And it’s not as if House of Cards hadn’t already seemed to be accelerating into its climax multiple times before, particularly at the ends of its second and fourth seasons. The show always found a way to extend its storyline, no matter how ridiculous. But now, it seems, House of Cards is calling it quits for good.
It is unclear how the allegations against Spacey may affect his career moving forward. But as far as Netflix is now concerned, after the final 13 episodes air in 2018, he’ll become someone else’s problem.
Updated to reflect the new allegations against Spacey and Netflix suspending production.