Kevin Spacey plays snaky politician Frank Underwood in the Netflix original series “House of Cards.” Underwood is everything you’d expect from a stereotypical political villain; brilliant, conniving, adulterous and back stabbing. He does it all under the guise of a proper Southern gentleman, accent to boot.
“House of Cards” is wrought with power plays and affairs. Even murders. If you believe the Vice President of the United States is capable of killing gubernatorial candidates via carbon monoxide poisoning, surely you’ll believe Frank Underwood’s fictional Southern background.
Underwood’s character, and “House of Cards” for that matter, is based off a BBC mini-series of the same name that originally ran in 1990. The U.K. version starred a fictional Chief Whip named Franics Urquhart. While sharing initials, writers of the modern day series felt the need to Americanize Spacey’s character.
Who is more American than a Southerner? Details of Underwood’s roots in South Carolina are gradually revealed through the shows first two seasons.
Here is what we know about Frank Underwood’s Southern roots:
Frank Underwood is from Gaffney, South Carolina
Gaffney is a tiny Southern town with a land area of just 8 square miles. It’s a city referred to as “suffocating” by their fictional Washington representative.
In House of Cards Underwood is portrayed as a self made man, who overcame simple roots and an alcoholic father to become the leader of the free world. That type of fictional character should come from a Southern town best known for a water tower.
Gaffney’s Peachoid water tower resembles, guess what, a peach! The unusual landmark is visible for miles and has become a tourist attraction on Interstate 85.
Frank Underwood returns to Gaffney in season 1 after a teenager from his district dies in a car accident. Allegedly she was distracted by the Peachoid and her family pushes for removal. Underwood, as always, wins in the end. The tower stays.
Frank Underwood represents South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District
Hundred bucks to the first reader who can name the actual representative from this district. Don’t feel bad if you can’t, I had to look him up too. Republican Mick Mulaney represents the district in real life after unseating 28-year incumbent John Spratt Jr. in 2010.
The district is agricultural and rural, two things Underwood distances himself from as he climbs the political ladder in Washington. He speaks derisively about being forced back to small town politics when he returns to his fictional home town in the show.
Frank Underwood graduated from The Sentential
Americans love their leaders with military background. How can one be Commander in Chief having never served? That question would never be posed to Underwood, who is said to have graduated from military school at the Sentinel, an obvious fictionalized version of The Citadel.
In one of the first season’s best episodes Underwood returns to his alma matter when a library is dedicated in his name. Reunited with his old college chums, Underwood and friends spend a drunken night at a boarded up library, where they reminisce about the good old days.
Directors commentary reveals the Sentinel was invented after the Citadel declined the use of their name and logo in the show.
The real life Citadel has produced distinguished political alumni. Six governors, three senators and 12 congressman have graduated from the prestigious military academy.
Frank Underwood’s great-great-great grandfather fought and died for the Confederacy
Corporal Augustus Elijah Underwood is said to have been killed during the Bloody Angle battle in 1864. Frank Underwood is made known of this when he meets a Civil War reenactor who knows his family history well.
Nearly 17,000 men lost their life during the actual engagement. Reports of that battle read like a horror movie, casualties stacked four high with survivors buried underneath. War is hell indeed.
Country Outfitter Style will keep you posted as further details of Frank Underwood’s fictional Southern background are revealed.
Image Source: PR Photos / Andrew Evans / BigStock