Succession is our best boy, but it’s also a revolting little worm, a Tomlette (made by breaking a few Greggs), and French baguette upside the head.
There is no doubt that Succession is our collective Game of Thrones rebound – just as that show was falling apart, Succession was there to pick up the pieces of slow-burn storytelling, GIF-able reaction shots and tyrannical empire building.
The premise, if you aren’t following Club Succession on Twitter (and I definitely am!), is about a family that owns a publicly-traded media company (the Roys are modeled after the Murdochs, Redstones, Hearsts, and Trumps of the world, which Town & Country breaks down here). To me, it most closely resembles the Murdoch family, particularly in season one and the trust fight, but it’s not exactly tied to one narrative.
It’s hard to write about a show that so many people have written about for publications like Vanity Fair, Vulture, The Cut, and Vox. What is there to say about the way Roman sits in a chair? Shiv’s power lob and likeness to powerful daughters? About Connor Roy’s purchase of Napoleon’s penis? About which Roy we got in the Buzzfeed quiz and what it means? The show is covered as well as Breaking Bad and The Sopranos and Game of Thrones and it’s only in its second season! But it’s nice to recognize greatness as it’s happening.
(That being said, if anyone would like me to write about how the Roys only eat nibbles, canapes, small bites and hors d'oeuvre and never full meals, probably because food is always laid out for them and cooking and cleaning is not even remotely in their realm of concerns, I would certainly be willing to take that on.)
The show is about money and power, of course. We watched how they treated “Vaulter” (a fictional website the Roys bought to make the corporation more hip) as a toy to be discarded, and how people’s jobs, pensions, and very existence is treated like a fly in the soup. Some of the Roys seem to take absolute pleasure in taunting the little guy, like a contractor who did renovations on one of their vacation homes, or a family unfortunate enough to play baseball with them.
Money means everything but it also means nothing because they have so much of it that it’s something they don’t think about in concrete terms. The Roys measure people in one way: can they directly enrich me and/or help me or not? Even the “decent” one of the bunch, fish-out-of-water Cousin Greg, fell so easily and so deeply into being like them that it’s clear to see how he soon will be firing a housekeeper and withholding a month’s pay as punishment for making his bed the wrong way.
As a family, they are miserable bunch, wracked with insecurity, unsavvy in business and relationships, and universally disliked (Waystar Royco is not a shining star in media). They are, at times, dumb, cruel, distrustful, hilarious, needy, sad, mercurial, immature, vulnerable and really, not that good with money (they just have a lot of it). They live in a rarified world, but beyond that, it’s a very specific, co-dependent family bubble. No one else can stand to be near them for any extended amount of time.
Their father, patriarch Logan Roy, is their biggest advocate and most foreboding enemy. He wants a successor, but will do everything he can to make damn sure that no one can smoothly succeed him. He hates that he gave them a life that makes them unable to be just like him.
Beyond the family, there’s a supporting cast of suited yes-men, the ones with $5 million (a poor rich person, per presidential hopeful Connor Roy). Cousin Greg was pegged as the audience surrogate, but isn’t it actually Gerri, someone who is both horrified and seduced by these wretched people? Gerri, a woman who says yes and no to everything and has managed to actually be named successor without being run over by the Roys? She is the closest they have come to a mother figure, someone they can trust and who they would bury without a second thought, as they would their own, literal mother.
Speaking of mother figures, the only thing I want more of is Marcia. Who is she? What does she want? What is her story? No one knows, not even Shiv, the person who has tried to find out. Is Marcia gone, or in it deeper than ever? Amongst all the throbbing ambition, she is the only one who doesn’t scream her intentions with every word.
I could (and do) talk all day about them, but trust me when I say this show is dark and uncomfortable, but it’s also laugh-out-loud funny. It’s unpredictable enough that even when a storyline was pulled from a real-life historic moment, it felt totally unexpected. The thing about Succession is that I don’t necessarily care who ends up running the trashbag of a media company, but I do care, deeply, about all of these garbage people. And the actors who portray them are so chef’s kiss perfect that it’s hard to separate them from the characters, so it’s wonderful that they are all leaning into it and seemingly enjoying all of the articles and talk show appearances and social media fawning.
And it’s not too late to get involved. Season two is ending on Sunday, which will leave a lot of time until season three. At the very least, this show is a study in how to use “f-ck off” as a rebuke, compliment, plea or bargaining chip, which could come in handy if you are ever trying to overthrow a board of directors.