Anyone from Dallas sitting down to watch the first couple of episodes of season four of Netflix's House of Cards over the weekend was bound to have felt like they took half a step or so into the uncanny valley. Keeping spoilers to a minimum, the season begins with First Lady Claire Underwood returning to her hometown of Highland Park — the show continually says Dallas, but Highland Park police officers and their ticket books ask us to remind you that they are a city, with all the privileges and rights that entails. She's trying to win over Doris Jones, who represents House District 30 in the House of Representatives.
The real District 30 is manned by longtime Dallas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. Johnson was elected to the house in 1992 following a stint in the Texas Senate. Johnson's district is centered in southern Dallas and includes downtown. Her Dallas office is in the 3100 block of Maple Avenue, near the Observer office and the Crescent Hotel, something that would be impossible to guess judging from House of Cards' drive into Jones' storefront office.
Netflix appears to have found an outcropping of row houses somewhere in Dallas — something we're sure has nothing to do with the fact that the show is filmed primarily in Maryland. As you can see in the photo, though, everyone drives a pickup truck — except the Underwoods' motorcade — helping the show strike another blow for verisimilitude. Then there's Jones herself, who's been prepping the seat she sits in for her daughter Celia. Cicely Tyson, thanks largely to the wig she's wearing, certainly evokes Johnson, who also has a thing for helping out her family members — as evidenced by the end of the '00s scandal that found the congresswoman distributed 23 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to her family members. Johnson would eventually repay more than $31,000 to the foundation.
On the show, Jones aims to build a public breast cancer screening facility inside an existing VA hospital. Not only does she want to do that, she wants the clinic to be run by Planned Parenthood. Admittedly, House of Cards exists in a universe completely detached from reality — President Underwood has, apparently, gotten away with two murders so far in the show's run — but there is no way, not even with help from the president himself, as Jones eventually secures, that anything even remotely connected to Planned Parenthood would get built with public money in the state of Texas.
Johnson's office hasn't released a statement about her on-screen near doppelganger, but the congresswoman herself seemed amused with the portrayal on Twitter.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.