After Game of Thrones ended, a part of me was curious to see what else HBO had to offer. I was neck-deep into the on-going Westworld and the now-concluded series The Newsroom and Entourage, but I was curious as to what else was on offer. Not that I jump on every occasion to begin a new TV series, far from it. I, myself, am pretty selective on the different genres, themes and subjects I choose to explore on TV. There’s so much content to stream every day, I have to make a few choices to avoid spending most of my time in front of the television. Well, for the summer, I made the choice to discover one of HBO’s most recent and pretty much unknown shows: Succession. As I am now a true fan of ShowTime’s Billions (read my latest review here), the teaser trailer for the second season of Succession gave me a glimpse of many similar themes, notably family, money, politics, power and business strategy and lust, which are very interesting concepts for me.
As we might wonder what it might be to be part of a powerful family dynasty that runs a conglomerate (ex: Warren Buffett’s, the Trump’s or the Desmarais in my own Canadian market), this show takes us inside a similar family…where things are FAR from being perfect. Indeed, I present you the Roy family, perhaps one of the most dysfunctional and toxic families in modern television. Sometimes borderline caricatural, the members of the Roy family will demonstrate how wealth, survival instincts and power hunger can breed human beings. This show might actually make you thankful for not being rich. Oh…and you might like to know that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are executive producers on the show, the duo that offered you the truly awesome movie The Big Short.
The centrepiece of the Roy family is the ageing patriarch, named Logan Roy (Brian Cox) who is the grumpiest, most vulgar and vile man in town. His family launched the Waystar Royco media conglomerate, which owns a number of news channels, entertainment media outlets, cruise lines and even amusement parks all over the country. See it as a kind of Fox news, with all the lines of product that come with it. Besides Logan Roy, other older and white executives are dictating the terms and trying to keep the company afloat. Considering his health issues, we know that Logan is close to retirement, leaving only one contender to take the throne as the heir of the company: one of his three children. First, we have the eldest, Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), the common ambitious businessman working for the company who does his best to keep it modern and relevant, despite his fathers’ latest reckless business decisions. Ex-addict, he is now sober and has a stable family dynamic. In second, we have my least favourite character of the show and the most vulgar and bizarre human being ever: Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin-you might recognize him from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). Romulus, as his father calls him, is nothing more than a fake, elitist moron who only brags and attacks people. Weirdly, he still manages to make his own way, which will definitely frustrate the audience. Finally, we have Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), their sister, which acts as campaign manager for a political figure but also very hard to read. Some days she can be the most adorable person in the room, one other days she can kill you and make you miserable in a blink of an eye.
Of course, other characters and relatives join this circle of hell, namely Connor (Alan Ruck, who played Cameron in the majestic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ), the son from another mother, Tom (Matthew MacFadyen), Shiv’s fiancé, and Greg (Nicholas Braun), the distant cousin. So, who will take over?
As Game of Thrones and even House of Cards once showed us, this show has an interesting formula on how to deal with “good” characters. It is debatable if Succession has any “good” characters, they all seem extremely flawed and horrible human beings. Their status and the chaotic climax in the family pushes them to show the worst of themselves, making the show very psychological. However, we might still find refuge in Kendall, which always seems like the most ‘normal’ of the bunch. Apart from an apparent drug problem, Kendall wants the best for the company and his family. Knowing that, everyone chooses to piss on him and orchestrate his downfall, making him a martyr and sometimes unstable. In other words, the writer behind the show, Jess Armstrong, wants to tell us that good people, with good values, will not survive in this world. Their slogan is “hunt or be hunted”. So, you won’t love Succession for the beauty of its characters, but because you will love to hate them so much. You will not feel any connection to them or their ambitions, but the spectacular and powerful world under their fingertips will still make you wonder. That is why I do like the show so far!
Call it a guilty pleasure if you must, but Succession remains well-written and strangely addictive for its wrongdoings. Also, it is important to acknowledge the great set design and locations. From huge skyscrapers and luxurious condos in downtown Manhattan to old Victorian castles in the heart of England, the rich universe of Succession does smell of money, but it remains very beautiful.
To sum it up, if you recognize yourselves as fans of both movies and TV shows focusing on business, money, family and power, then Succession is for you and I invite you to give it a try. I warn you, you will most absolutely hate the characters, but you will find the family dynamic and the overall story intriguing. By the way, the season one finale has a surprising twist, it is worth the wait. Another great element, I forgot to mention the look and fashion of the show, which are truly great (I love the everyday urban clothes on these people, even James Bond would wear them). Season two is currently airing on HBO!
If, by any chance, some of you do watch the show already, please tell me in the Facebook comments who you think should be heir to the company. I’m curious!
Before you go though, why not give some of our most recent posts a read, including a breakdown of the most recent Terminator: Dark Fate trailer and why the First Order should survive the events of The Rise of Skywalker.