To watch ‘House of Cards’ or study for midterms? A screenplay

Cartoon by Sophie McTear | Design Editor
Cartoon by Sophie McTear | Design Editor

Characters:
–Jaggar DeMarco, a junior at GW
–Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood in Netflix’s “House of Cards”
–Robin Wright as Claire Underwood in Netflix’s “House of Cards”

Scene:
It is a chilly Saturday afternoon. Jaggar DeMarco sits at a desk in his dimly lit dorm room cluttered with textbooks, flashcards, highlighters and notebooks. A grande Starbucks cup sits discarded on the dresser next to his closed laptop. The room is filled with an eerie quiet. Jaggar is studying for midterms, and he can only do so in silence.

***

JAGGAR (to himself): Sixty-two hours and 37 minutes until my first midterm. Only 45 hours to study, excluding sleeping and eating. Ugh.

There’s a knock at the door. Jaggar answers it. Frank and Claire enter.

JAGGAR: Uh – hello, Frank.

FRANK UNDERWOOD: No time for small talk, Jaggar. You said yourself you only have 45 hours to study for this midterm. I’m sure you’re aware that Season 3 of my show, “House of Cards,” was released in full yesterday on Netflix. But you won’t be watching, will you? Now is not the time to focus on television.

JAGGAR: No, Mr. President, of course not! With three impending midterms, I can’t sacrifice that amount of time right now.

FRANK: Smart choice.

CLAIRE UNDERWOOD: (Sits down next to Jaggar, puts her hand on his shoulder compassionately.) We knew you would make the right decision, but we just wanted to come to make sure – for moral support.

JAGGAR: The last day or so has been really difficult. I’ve had to keep myself off of Twitter, Facebook, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post – I’m worried I’ll see spoilers. Everyone is so quick to post their opinions about the season, forgetting that some of us have exams to prepare for. That’s why I’m only studying off of flashcards and hand-written notes.

Jaggar motions to his computer, closed and turned off atop his dresser.

If you aren’t equipped with a smart take right off the bat, there goes the potential for five new followers.

FRANK: But, Jaggar, staying off the Internet is not a wise decision. You know most of your professors post supplemental materials on Blackboard. By keeping your computer off, you’re shortchanging yourself.

Frank turns and delivers the following lines to camera.

Does this idiot really think that the president of the United States would come visit him just to make sure that he’s studying for his college midterms? To be honest, I’m surprised my ulterior motive isn’t clear: To get Jaggar to start binge-watching “House of Cards.”

Those melodramatic inmates on “Orange is the New Black” are getting better ratings than I am. Uppity GW Hillterns are our key demographic – I need them to watch.

Frank turns back to Jaggar, addressing him:

But whatever you do, make sure you don’t log onto Netflix.

Jaggar shuffles with some flashcards before tossing them aside dramatically. He reaches for his computer and logs in to Blackboard. He opens up all his materials online while Claire smokes a cigarette and Frank sips a glass of Scotch. Jaggar, distracted, gazes out the window.

JAGGAR: I think it’s ridiculous that midterms were scheduled for the week after “House of Cards” would be released. How am I even supposed to interact with anyone at GW if I haven’t at least watched the first episode?

Frank and Claire briefly catch each other’s eye. Jaggar does not notice.

CLAIRE: I have an idea: How about you take a short, 43-minute study break? We’ll be here to make sure that Netflix doesn’t autoplay the second episode.

FRANK: Great idea, Claire.

Frank turns and delivers the following lines to camera:

This is why I always bring Claire with me: Where I’m too blunt and forceful, Claire is charming and sly. Not everyone can respond to my demands. But Jaggar is a sucker for strong female leads with trendy haircuts.

Claire adjusts her bangs.

JAGGAR: OK, sounds smart. I could get the urge out of my system by watching just one episode – and then I’ll get back to studying. By the way, Claire, I love your pixie cut. I wish I could have such a signature hair style.

Frank gives the camera a “I told you so” look.

CLAIRE: You’re too kind.

Jaggar opens Netflix, sealing his fate for the rest of the evening.

JAGGAR: Claire, do you think you can bring me a drink?

Claire delivers Jaggar a Scotch on the rocks from the refrigerator. Claire and Frank stealthily move toward the door and exit the room. Jaggar does not notice.

About 40 minutes pass. As the credits roll and the second episode starts to play, Jaggar looks up from his computer and glances around the empty room.

JAGGAR: I thought you were going to stop me before the next episode…

He trails off and looks skeptically at his computer as the next episode starts to play.

JAGGAR: Well, I guess I’m performing my duty as a GW student by watching, right? I’m sure my professors will understand – and chances are, they’ll be watching too.

–END SCENE–

Jaggar DeMarco, a junior majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist.

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