Feature Friday: HBO’s Succession
Written by Guneet Lalria, header art by Madison Waliewski
Being home in the midst of a pandemic has given me free time; free time that I’ve dedicated to binging television shows. I craved drama, comedy, and family affairs and that’s when the show Succession was brought to my attention.
Jeremy Armstrong’s Succession follows the Roy family who are founders and owners of a large media conglomerate called Waystar-Royco. The father, Logan Roy, is clearly declining in health and aging, which means his children have to deal with company dilemmas and ultimately plan for a future without their father in the picture. Essentially, viewers are watching a wealthy family dodge every law in the book in order to become a media company powerhouse which will ultimately affect the rest of the world.
The series quickly became one of HBO’s favorites, but why? The characters are problematic, and who really wants to know the truth about news outlets being controlled by parent conglomerates? Perhaps it’s the way most scenes are improvised for comedic purposes, or the exaggeration of how people born into the rich find ways to become even more rich.
The characters of the show are also interesting and complex. Season one presents the Roy family as cold, business-minded minions of their father who seems to only show love to his children when they have benefitted the company financially. Season two allows the audience to connect with characters on an emotional level as they start to be affected by family scandals and humiliations. Rather than despising the characters, audiences begin to feel for them and only hope for the best. There also tends to be a tier to the characters as to who serves what purpose for the show’s storyline. For example, Kendall Roy, Roman Roy, and Shiv Roy seem to be career-driven children on their way to appeal to their father. On the other hand, there are Tom Wambsgans, Greg Hirsh, and Connor Roy who give the audience a deep breath from all of the corporate talk with their comical suck-up personas to further their own agendas.
The cinematography also proves the show’s dramedy element. Often times the cinematography is similar to that of an Oscar-winning film. The occasional zoom-ins are reminiscent of The Office, showing the series’ comedic side.
The show takes a satirical route. A large portion of the dialogue is exaggerated and often unintentionally funny and one of the elements that I love about the show. The writers sarcastically implement stereotypes of the rich, such as non-disclosure agreements, pay-offs, company scandals, and hatred for the poor—if anything, in addition to acting and cinematography, that’s what the show does best.
Lately, Succession seems to be a public favorite. The series swept 7 Emmys in the drama category a couple of weeks ago, including Outstanding Drama Series and Best Actor (Jeremy Strong). The show proves to be an entertaining piece, as well as an exceptional, but alarming, reflection of how media conglomerates influence news outlets and the rest of the world—in an inadvertently funny way.