What happens when two first ladies – one real, one fictional – walk into a room?
Tongue-in-cheek insults get dished out. At least, that's what happened Monday, when "House of Cards" first lady Robin Wright introduced (real) first lady Michelle Obama at a MORE Magazine awards luncheon in Washington, D.C.
After Ms. Wright praised Mrs. Obama's work on girls' education and called the first lady, “Inspirer-in-Chief," Mrs. Obama didn't quite return the compliment.
“I’m certainly not taking any inspiration from Claire Underwood,” Obama joked, as she took the stage and talked about her "Let Girls Learn," girls' education initiative.
They say politics is show business and when it comes to Netflix's hit political drama, "House of Cards," it appears the two worlds, Washington and Hollywood, make for mutually-congratulatory bedfellows.
The show chronicles the Machiavellian stratagems of President Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, one of the most morally bankrupt politicians ever created by Hollywood, who will lie, kill, and sleep around, to achieve his ambitions. It is perhaps strange, then, to learn that at least two first couples, the Obamas and the Clintons, are huge fans.
President Obama has displayed his "House of Cards" fandom throughout the show's run, with a tweet that once famously proclaimed his Valentine's Day plans: watching "House of Cards" – "No spoilers, please," an April Fools' Day impersonation of Frank Underwood, and a headline-making admission that while he's nothing like Frank Underwood, Mrs. Obama shares a thing or two with the fictional first lady.
According to Wright, “He said, ‘I'm not as bad, but she on the other hand, is more like you'. She and I kind of winked, she completely agreed."
It's not the first time the president has claimed that his life doesn't always imitate art.
In an interview last year, he distanced his day-to-day life from Frank Underwood's. “I have to tell you, life in Washington is a little more boring than displayed on the screen," he said. "The truth of the matter is, if you followed me, most of my day is sitting in a room listening to a bunch of folks in gray suits talking about a whole bunch of stuff that wouldn’t make very good television.”
That didn't stop Netflix CEO Reed Hastings from offering Obama a cameo on the show.
The possibilities could have been endless – Obama may have appeared, perhaps, as a young, upstart senator from a midwestern state threatening to disrupt Underwood's reelection plans – but the president, we are told, declined.
He's not the only president who's a fan.
Perhaps there's no bigger fan than former president Bill Clinton, a longtime friend of Spacey's who "practically serves as a series adviser," according to reports.
Hillary, too, is a fan. In a revelation that provided a different view of the former first lady and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate than most of America is used to, she told People magazine that she and Bill “totally binge-watched” the first season, a treat for her after a crushing travel schedule as secretary of state.
And Bill Clinton has also famously said the drama about Washington's ruthless machinations is largely accurate.
In an interview in Gotham Magazine, Spacey shared Clinton's thoughts on the show.
“He tells me, ‘I love that House of Cards,’” Spacey told the magazine.
But there was one inaccuracy the former president was quick to point out.
“Kevin, 99 percent of what you do on that show is real. The 1 percent you get wrong is you could never get an education bill passed that fast,” Spacey told Gotham, referring to a Season 1 plot point.
The Clintons' ties to the show go further: Before he became a TV writer and playwright, "House of Cards" creator Beau Willimon worked as an intern on Mrs. Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, reports The New York Times.
That's not all: Jay Carson, a political consultant on "House of Cards," worked as a press secretary to Mr. Clinton and served as Mrs. Clinton’s traveling press aide during her 2008 presidential campaign, the Times reported.
Maybe that's why, according to Mr. Clinton, 99 percent of the show is real.