Spoilers for Season 1, Episode 1 of ‘Succession’ will be discussed.
As far as cut-throat political television dramas go, my reach is somewhat limited to the likes of Netflix’s renowned “House of Cards.” While the former might now be facing a shaky reception as it gears up to enter its final season without the once-profound star power of actor Kevin Spacey, the Netflix series has remained the pinnacle of showcasing engrossing battles for power by those who yearn for a world in their image. Such power-hungry characters like Spacey’s now-defamed Frank Underwood brought me to HBO’s “Succession.” While the newest series might find a different focus, taking aim at the well-to-do Roy family and their festering business aspirations, the show’s vicious cast of seedy elites, thirsty for a leg up, makes for what could be an addictive new drama.
While I’ve been obsessed as of late with HBO’s other top summer addiction in the bottomless pit of questions that is “Westworld,” I quickly latched onto “Succession” (airing Sundays at 10 p.m.) as a way of easing my churning mind with the entitled anxieties of the rich and scummy. Basking in the rapid-fire dialogue akin to that of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and the profane behavior of those with far too much money in their pocket, a show like “Succession” feels almost like binging “Jersey Shore” — that is, if “Jersey Shore” wasn’t merely drunk lunatics living in and out of the occasional club. Highly-addictive in their own right, I stumbled onto HBO’s latest as an odd form of escapism. Still very interested in the plot set to unfold, delving into the affairs of the affluent Roy family, I approached “Succession” with a mutual curiosity in its star-studded cast of well-heeled power players.
With the first episode of the season, “Celebration,” offering up a pretty straightforward insight into each member of the Roy family and their equally-scummy subordinates, it’s clear what kind of show “Succession” yearns to be. While pitching a full-throttle war among its central family, where its patriarch in Brian Cox’s Logan Roy presides with a ruthless fist, the show also appears to be subtly portraying the likes of other well-off families of power. With Cox’s Logan evoking the likes of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, with his cantankerous nature spilling into the affairs of his media company Waystar/Royco, the show takes an intriguing and unhinged approach to showcasing the blatant excess on its sleeve.
While Cox’s role in the show already promises an incendiary and volatile persona at the center of the storm, the rest of the Roy family each seem to take on their own unique position in the bitter fight for the top. From the corporate-obsessed heir to the throne in Jeremy Strong’s Kendall to the three other Roy children in Roman (Kieran Culkin), Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Connor (Alan Ruck), the balance between the self-indulgence of power and fame, and the waning loyalty of family sit at the heart of “Succession.” With its premiere teasing a rollercoaster of heated betrayal and bitter cynicism ahead, HBO’s latest should hopefully be worth all the money it flaunts so mercilessly.
“Succession” comes from creator Jesse Armstrong (“Peep Show,” “The Thick of It”) and its premiere is directed by “The Big Short” director Adam McKay.
‘Succession’ airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO. You can catch up on past episodes of the season on HBO Go.