Succession: My Latest (TV) Obsession

[NO SPOILERS] I guess I have Game of Thrones to thank for my latest obsession. I recall seeing countless advertisements for Succession during the ill-fated Season 8 of Game of Thrones. The premise Succession seemed intriguing enough but I resisted the temptation to watch until a few weeks ago. At the time I was too annoyed with HBO to invest in another of their original series. I am so glad to have changed my mind.

Succession tells the story of Logan Roy, an influential mogul on the cusp of retiring from his self-made and wildly successful US media conglomerate Waystar ROYCO (a Fox-like news behemoth). The succession in question surrounds which of his four adult and highly dysfunctional children will seize the reigns once Logan steps away.

In that way, I suppose Succession is similar to Game of Thrones. In lieu of an Iron Throne there is the CEO position of Waystar ROYCO. Aren’t family-owned major corporations the modern day equivalents of medieval kingdoms anyway? Succession brilliantly demonstrates this analogy, minus the guillotines.

Succession is not a show about about good people doing good things. In fact, most of the characters in this show are despicable. Imagine a narcissistic, entitled elitist with a healthy dose of self-loathing and you will begin to understand the people that populate this world. Horrible dispositions not withstanding, the brilliance of this show lies in the fact these characters are also intelligent, compelling, highly watchable and possibly redeemable.

The acting in Succession is top notch all around. Though inhabiting loathsome or just plain idiotic people, this cast somehow is able to produce glimmers of humanity in unexpected places. The Roy children are seriously fucked up. Without giving too much away the reasons for their pathology begin with a ruthless father, are followed by a cold, bitter mother, and enabled by startling wealth.

It is difficult to pick a favorite among the cast but if I had to choose I would call out Jeremy Strong as the Roy heir apparent Kendall and Kieran Culkin as the ne’er-do-well youngest son Roman. However, I reserve the right to change my mind :). Honorable mentions? Everybody else.

Jesse Armstrong, the creator and show runner of Succession, just won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. The award is well-deserved. Granted, the first two episodes of the series were a little hard to get through (hang in there!) but once Episode 3 aired I was hooked. Season 2 was even better than the first and absolutely bonkers. The setting and the situations all ring true to with regard to the infamous 1% of current American society. While the Roys may remind you of certain high-profile people series creator Armstrong claims that they are an amalgamation of several well-known media families.

Did I mention the dialogue? Spectacular!

The Roy children have all undergone an impressive amount of meticulously plotted character development through the first two seasons of Succession. It remains to be seen if they can rally together to overcome their troubled childhood or whether their greed and narcissism will ultimately tear them – along with anyone caught in their sphere – to shreds. If Succession sounds Shakespearean it is, particularly along the lines of King Lear.

The downside of Succession? There are only two seasons. If you are looking for an addictive family drama filled with opulent wealth, surprising twists, and vapid but interesting people, Succession is for you.

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