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House of Cards and Netflix encourage our worst pop culture tendency: The gorge

The third season of House of Cards went live two weeks early before it was promptly removed from Netflix.

The company had a fun tweet that explained the mistake, but it took seconds for the media to report on the mishap, and many fans like myself were frantically canceling plans and ordering pizza in preparation for an earlier than expected marathon of the show.

Pavlov had rung his bell, and we were all salivating. The latest, and last, episodes of House of Cards are up now, for real, and I find myself struggling to work instead of running to watch the whole run. What the hell has Netflix done to us?

The appeal of the gorge

Warning: There are light spoilers from previous House of Cards seasons in this article.

There are already reviews of the episodes online, and I stumbled on a few annoying headlines during my morning cup of coffee. It's frustrating for an entire season of something to be released and moments later have someone telling me to expect either rapture or disappointment. I'd like to at least go into the first few episodes blind, and go from there.

But critics have begun their gorge well before I'll get to, and in fact my friends at The Verge are live-blogging the entirety of the show in what amounts to real time. By the time I drove my kids to school, they were on episode six.

House of Cards isn't a great show; it's too messy and over-the-top to take its place next to the hallowed workplace conversations about The Wire, Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. It's an entertaining and fun show, and has the honor of stacking up favorably next to other pulpy fair such as the newly deceased Sons of Anarchy and the way better than it should be The Flash.

This isn't a safe world for sippers

The political trappings and Kevin Spacey do their damnedest to give the show a sense of weight and importance it never earns, so at least we get to kid ourselves about watching a "great" show while we wait for another bisexual threesome or random moment when the then-vice-president of the country calmly murders someone.

You can skate over the top of House of Cards and enjoy it for the awkwardly placed video game reference and Spacey's enthusiastic scenery-chewing much easier than Netflix's other shows such as Orange is the New Black.

You'll rarely become emotionally overwhelmed by House of Cards, and the visual metaphors border on the satirical. Yes, we get it Frank. You're playing with toy soldiers. Very clever. Every plot point must be explained two or three times, even if it that means bringing in some toys to drive the idea home. This isn't a show that requires you to pay full attention to understand what's going on. It rewards your gluttony by virtue of its ease of consumption.

It's time to stop lying to ourselves

I told myself I'd wait and watch one episode of House of Cards a night during GDC as a way to reward myself for a day of hard work. Hell, episodic content is often more enjoyable when it's spread out; the week-long discussion of what we saw and what may happen next is part of the joy of consumption for me when it comes to TV. It's more fun to stop and chew, but we're not going to. You can't make us.

Critics aren't even given the fun of a weekly recap where they can talk about each episode with their readers; now it's all about sprinting to the finish line. It's impossible to tell where anyone else in the show, so how the hell am I supposed to know when it's safe to talk about the UFO subplot of episode 30? We're all going to be careful around each other for the next week or so as everyone's gorge moves at its own pace.

After that week, it could be fair game for all we know. This isn't a safe world for sippers. The gorge is a defense mechanism against spoilers, which is why Game of Thrones has become nearly required live viewing. Who wants to risk someone being an asshole with an errant tweet? Hell, even Stephen King let slip a Game of Thrones spoiler last season on Twitter. No one is safe.

I love to gorge, and House of Cards is perhaps the perfect show for that practice. It's the pizza you want to eat to feel full, and there's not much to be gained by slowing down to enjoy every bite. I've given up on the idea of rationing, and the thought I may have any episodes left for next week is laughable. I'm about to bunker down, order pizza, open a root beer, and see how far I get before passing out tonight.

God bless the gorge.

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