I almost gave up on watching Succession. Am I glad I didn’t?
I was a bit late to the Succession bandwagon. I finally got wind of it in late 2021, basically when the third season had just finished and apparently it was game-changing and dramatic, so everyone was talking about the show. Essentially, FOMO was my motivator.
One of my first thoughts when starting the show was, ‘Is that Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice???’ It was quite jarring. In fact, I texted my friend Anna who is a big fan and she was tickled at my shock and surprise. My next thought was, ‘Is that the one guy from Sky High?’ Indeed, a quick Google search confirmed that one as well. The actor playing Roman also reminded me of Macauley Culkin for some reason…
Around episode 7, I was ready to give up. There was not a single likeable character among the bunch. Stewy and Roman were OK for a bit of comic relief, but at their core were terrible people. Shiv was clearly the smartest of the Roy children, but she was also a shitty person for not being transparent with her fiance. Greg maybe had some redeemable qualities, but I was waiting to see if he would actually start to have some confidence in himself and ask for what he wants.
Nevertheless, I persisted. This show has been built up so much in pop culture that I thought I HAVE to continue. Not only to be able to keep up with conversations and references, but because I thought there has to be a big pay-off, if not in the story, in the acting. My favorite podcast Las Culturistas was raving about season 3, how great the acting is and how crazy the final episode is. And if there’s anyone I trust, it’s Bowen and Matt.
By the end of season 1, I was definitely more invested in some of the storylines than in the middle of the season. I wanted to see what happened with Kendall after the car crash incident. I wanted to see if Shiv and Tom’s marriage worked out after Shiv’s wedding night confession. I wanted to see if Greg got more confident and less of a shy, scared mouse. But at the same time, I also wouldn’t have been upset if I had no more access to the show. I guess I was passively hooked, but more so committed to seeing it through because of what everyone else said.
It was also around this point that I started having some strange feelings about Roman. I couldn’t really tell if I found him attractive or if he was just offering the most comic relief of the Roy children with his IDGAF attitude and witty one-liner insults. I did some quick searches and found this article titled What’s Behind Our Thirst for Roman Roy? This article succinctly expressed what I was thinking but couldn’t quite articulate. The author describes that Kieran Culkin/Roman Roy has ‘short king’ and ‘chaos goblin’ energy (read the full article to fully understand what that means). “Culkin is five-foot-six, standing below his absurdly lanky co-stars. But Roman walks around with an absurd confidence, strolling into rooms and climbing all over furniture in a way only a short man can.” Having my own short king at home, this is an angle I wanted to investigate further.
I think the reason I was hesitant to continue the show from the middle of season 1 is because of the fact that there is not a single likeable character on this show, as stated before. All of the main characters are extremely flawed. Gerri seems level-headed, but she’s also not part of the main cast where we see lots of her personal life. Frank also sort of seems like a sweetheart, but he is also constantly going between allegiance with Logan and Kendall. Maybe I was shaken by the fact that I couldn’t identify a single character that had a redeemable quality or seemed like they might make some positive character development.
*We interrupt this article to report that I just found out Sarah Snook (Shiv Roy) is Australian and has completely fooled me with her phenomenal American accent.*
At some point, I accepted that none of the characters were likeable and that it seemed like they wouldn’t make very much positive progress any time soon. That’s fine, I thought, it’s actually mimicking real life quite succinctly. I got through season 2 and wasn’t that surprised when Kendall decided to go off-script and not take the fall for Logan regarding the cruises scandal. I understood it from a self-preservation angle, because I thought (in the real world) that Logan as CEO should take the fall because everything happened under his watch and multiple head-ofs. This made me definitely want to continue to see the fall-out from that decision.
Season 3 popped off with Kendall going rogue once again and trying to seize control of Waystar and trying to convince his siblings to join him. Shiv’s outfits were serving rich girlboss per usual, Greg was still getting walked all over, and Roman was his typical ball of chaos. When we had the appearance from Ziwe where she roasts the hell out of Kendall, I was living.
Another thing I came to appreciate about the show was the relationship between Roman and Gerri. I love that they flipped the script from the usual older man/younger woman game. In an interview, Kieran Culkin and J. Smith-Cameron admitted that once after a scene where they walked away, they checked out each other’s booty. Essentially, this is what inspired the writers to incorporate the Gerri-Roman flirtation – actual, on-set flirtation! How cool is that? I loved learning that the writers had the freedom and flexibility to do this.
After all of this, I’m still not sure I can say that I like the show. When people ask me if they should watch it, I say yes because it is absolutely part of the Zeitgeist and if you are a lover of all things pop culture like me, you definitely don’t want to miss out on the conversations about this show and its misfit characters. But is Succession going in my top 5 dramedies? I haven’t quite decided.
At the end of the day, this show is already sealed in history as one of the great dramedies of the 21st century. And will I continue to watch so I can stay up to date with the conversations around it? Probably. FOMO can be a strong motivator.