When fleeing Frank Underwood, go to Ithaca. (House of Cards)

This is the second in a series looking at references to Ithaca in national pop culture.

Here’s the first one: “That time Jerry Seinfeld got stuck in Ithaca.”

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Ithaca, N.Y. — Where would you go if worried that the Vice President of the United States wanted your head on a spike?

The answer, at least according to the writers of Netflix’s hit drama “House of Cards,” is not a foreign country. Instead, the show has former bulldog reporter Janine Skorsky seeking safe haven in Ithaca, NY, after getting spooked by the murderous Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey).

When fleeing Frank Underwood, go to Ithaca. (House of Cards)

The Wikia page relays the details:

“As a result of her extensive gathered evidence regarding Peter Russo’s manner of death and the murdering of Zoe Barnes that ensued, Janine was quick to drop her personal investigation in fear that an extremely reputable Frank Underwood–having a lot to lose–will not hesitate to pursue and eliminate her to protect himself.”

Janine (played by Constance Zimmer) thus heads to Ithaca, where she can also see her ailing mother and presumably write guest stories for The Voice that don’t put her life in the mercy of the world’s most powerful politicians.

Janine Skorsky

But even Tompkins County ends up proving within the reach of the Washington, D.C., vortex, as Janine — once the White House correspondent for a fictional Washington Post equivalent —soon discovers.

As a reporter named Lucas Goodwin seeks to uncover the death of another journalist, Janine gets pulled back into the mix.

Goodwin travels to Ithaca to find Janine teaching journalism “in Ithaca” (the show doesn’t say which school, but local academics will know that this must mean Ithaca College, since Cornell doesn’t have a journalism program).

Goodwin enters as Janine lectures on the virtues of journalism, and he tries to get Janine to leave the city of gorges in exchange for the high-octane world of Capitol Hill reporting.

Naturally, Goodwin fails. He should have known better than to try to talk someone out of Ithaca.

As The Guardian notes: “Good luck in Ithaca, Janine. Still not sure why you decided you were safe there, given you knew very nearly as much as Zoe did, but your mom’s house seems nice, I guess.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.