Despite unrealistic plots and weak characterization (except for Francis Urquhart), Michael Dobbs' books, House of Cards, Play the King, and The Final Cut were best sellers that provided the basis for a long-running TV series.
I haven't seen the films, but I have read the books. I conclude that plot and characters are mere props for the didactic lesson of the novels: Democratic politics is concerned only with power and sex. Nothing else is in the picture.
There is no such thing as a politician concerned with the people's well being or capable of marital fidelity. The media are as bad as the politicians. Female journalists use their bodies for access to power and become accomplices in political intrigues. Idealism is merely another vehicle used in the competition for power.
I suspect the novels and TV series were popular because they expose politics for what it is. Politics serves only personal ambition. This is a lesson that liberals and progressives, who present government as a public-spirited alternative to private greed, need to learn.
In showing politics in service to personal ambition, Dobbs is a master of truth despite his shortcoming as a novelist.