Underwood's Underhandedness: Moral Ambiguity in House of Cards.
In the television landscape, there are many characters that are not unequivocally good or bad but instead behave in morally questionable ways, which raises questions about how the audience evaluates this ambiguous behavior. This thesis uses House of Cards’ Frank Underwood as a case study to examine how viewers assess the behavior of such a protagonist. It begins to theoretically explore the various processes that fuel this evaluation, which can eventually lead to moral disengagement. It then turns to House of Cards itself, by exploring how Frank Underwood’s ambiguity is expressed through the breakdown of the fourth wall and by analyzing his dubious actions during the series’ first season. Finally, it concludes that there is a wide spectrum in terms of ambiguity and with the entirely self-centered motivations of Frank Underwood. This is reflective of a current move in the television landscape towards the spectrum’s far end.
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