Much has been made of House of Cards creator Beau Willimon's decision to add a lengthy plot line — I cannot emphasize enough how lengthy and drawn-out this plot line is — about Russian-American politics. Willimon's president of Russia is not named Vladimir Putin, but Viktor Petrov, which is almost an anagram for Vladimir Putin; that's how similar it is. Many viewers and critics alike have questioned the necessity of this plot, and more to the point, its accuracy. If the show, which is so widely popular that even the real-life president of the United States watches it, is going to have a storyline about Russia's actions regarding gay rights and the Middle East (two separate issues, to be sure), that storyline better be accurate.
And, yes, the resemblance is pretty uncanny. Even The Moscow Times said there was only one difference between the real President and the fictional character:
Petrov is prone to manly antics, has a reputation for being authoritarian, and even shares a history of posing shirtless for masculine photos.
There's one striking difference, though: The actor playing Petrov's part, Lars Mikkelsen, is about 22 centimeters (8.7 inches) taller than Putin, according to published data, and towers over his entourage in the way the real-life Russian president hardly ever does.
Here are the seven similarities between the two, as told by Miley Cyrus' iconic song "7 Things."
1. You're vain
Both Petrov and Putin enjoy taking their shirts off and showing off their stately barrel-chested torsos.
2. Your games
3. You're insecure
This one does not apply to either of them, meaning there is yet another parallel between the two men's personalities. Putin's confidence translates into Petrov's manner; Petrov is a character who lives life with a consistent poker face and never gives away his endgame. Like Putin, Petrov lets his confidence lead the way.
4. You love me, you like her
Petrov is a bachelor in House of Cards, but he's supposed to be working on a committed political relationship with President Frank Underwood. Petrov jeopardizes this relationship by laying a big smooch on Frank's wife, Claire Underwood, who politely and gracefully refuses his advances. But the damage is done — Petrov has broken Frank's trust. Though Petrov's bachelor status doesn't jive with Putin's real life, Putin has been suspected to have had several affairs over the past few years, and was almost never photographed with his former wife.
5. You make me laugh, you make me cry, I don't know which side to buy
Again with the manipulation — it can be difficult to know which side Petrov (or his real-life counterpart Putin) is on. Sometimes he acts like an ally to the Americans and other Western countries who is going to be more lenient with his aggressive politics. Other times, Putin attacks Ukraine ruthlessly.
6. Your friends are jerks, when you act like them, just know it hurts
In House of Cards, Petrov acknowledges that the anti-gay laws in Russia are "barbaric," but he insists that it is the Russian people who are forcing him to keep the laws in place. Here we may say he is acting like his "friends," as Miley calls them, but really he's backstabbing his people, as unfolds in the show with a powerful cameo by Pussy Riot.
Petrov as a stand-in for Putin could not be clearer than the scene in which the real Pussy Riot stand up to him and demand accountability and justice for Russia's LGBT community. If anything, their appearance aligns Petrov with Putin more than anything.
7. You make me love you
Both Putin and Petrov are highly charismatic, even charming at times.