Up until this one specific camera shot, 31 minutes and 42 seconds into the sixth episode of House of Cards, it had all been going pretty well. The endearing evil of the series’ anti-hero Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey, there on the left) had carried me through the first five installments at a brisk pace, to the extent that even the most blatant Apple and Sony product placements had largely gone unnoticed. (Underwood: “Is that a PS Vita? I oughta get one of these for the car.”)
I happen to be from the UK, where paid product placements on TV shows were banned until 2011 and where we’re particularly sensitive to such things, so I must have been engrossed. But then this desk shot happened. My disbelief stopped suspending and promptly clattered to the floor. It had nothing to do with Apple specifically, or even the principle of commercial gadget cameos. My paranoia runs deeper than that, and it has so far prevented me from going back to watch the rest of the series. Read on and I’ll explain.