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House of Cards promotes Robin Wright to sole lead for its 6th and final season

The show will return in 2018 — without Kevin Spacey.

Claire on House of Cards
Robin Wright stars as Claire in House of Cards.
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

House of Cards, the drama that put Netflix on the map as a provider of original content, will be back for a sixth season, sans star Kevin Spacey, said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos at UBS’s Global Media and Communications Conference in New York. Deadline has more. The announcement ends speculation about how the series will proceed without Spacey, who was fired after multiple men and women accused him of sexually assaulting them, some while they were teenagers.

Production will begin in 2018, and the season will be eight episodes, as opposed to the typical order of 13 episodes. As heavily speculated, the series will now be centered on Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood, the wife of Spacey’s character. It will complete its run at the end of season six, as planned. Continuing to produce the show will allow for ongoing employment for around 2,000 people in the Baltimore area, Sarandos said in his presentation.

Spacey was essentially fired from the program by Netflix in early November. (Since Netflix doesn’t directly produce the series — Media Rights Capital does — it couldn’t actually fire Spacey, but it said it would no longer air the program if Spacey were involved.) Since then, rumors swirled that House of Cards might kill off his character or write him out via some other means. Production on the show’s sixth and final season has been suspended since early November while MRC and Netflix decided how best to proceed. A two-week extension to the production hiatus, announced over Thanksgiving weekend, bumped up against the series’ holiday break, so it makes sense that all involved would wait for the new year to resume production on the new season.

House of Cards was a major breakthrough for Netflix, as the first series produced exclusively for the streaming service in the US. (Netflix had aired other programming original to the US before, but it was always programming that the company had acquired from other countries.) It received nine Emmy nominations for its first season, including Best Drama Series and lead acting nominations for Spacey and Robin Wright, marking the first major nominations for an online-only program. The show even won a directing prize for the work of David Fincher, who helmed the series’ first two episodes.

The accusations against Spacey began October 29, when Anthony Rapp, an actor known for his work in Rent and Star Trek: Discovery, alleged that Spacey had made a sexual advance toward him when Rapp was just 14. Spacey’s roundly criticized public apology involved the actor finally coming out as gay after decades of rumors, but several more accusations followed, leading to Spacey’s firing from House of Cards.

Additionally, Spacey has been removed from his supporting role in All the Money in the World, a movie set for release on December 22. That film’s director, Ridley Scott, took the unprecedented move of recasting Spacey’s role in the film with Christopher Plummer and re-filming all of Spacey’s scenes around five weeks before the film’s release.

The lengthy House of Cards hiatus should allow the series’ writers to rework the show to be about Claire, but even before the Spacey scandal broke, the series was pushing Claire more into the foreground with every new season; without spoiling the end of season five, it serves as an almost eerily perfect handoff to Claire.