Succession: The Dramatic Arrested Development

Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong, Alan Ruck, and Sarah Snook in an episode of Succession. Peter Kramer/Courtesy of HBO.

The best thing that one can say about the new HBO drama, Succession, is that it is the dramatic version of Arrested Development.  After that, it gets tricky.

The series follows around the family of Logan Roy (Brian Cox), the CEO of Waystar Royco.  As the series starts, it’s assumed that Logan Roy would be retiring from the company.  After all, he’s 80 years old and can’t keep doing the job forever.  He’s married to his third wife, Marcia (Hiam Abbass), and the media landscape is so different from when he first started.  Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), assumed to be taking over for his dad, is just as blindsided by this decision as are the rest of his siblings, Roman (Kieran Culkin), Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Connor (Alan Ruck).  Logan’s decision comes as Kendall was working to acquire a digital company founded by Lawrence Lee (Rob Yang).

Among the children, Kendall is the only member actively working within the family empire as the series starts.  He’s separated form his wife, Rava (Natalie Gold), but the two share two children.  Roman is no longer working there while Shiv has been planning for a political career.  Shiv’s boyfriend, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), works as a senior executive for the company.  Eldest son Connor has been living the life in New Mexico.  While the 80th birthday party plans are coming along, Logan’s nephew, Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun), has just made the move from Canada to New York City.  Greg wants to be a part of the family empire.  Nobody could blame him at all.

The Roy family could take the place of any family controlling a media conglomerate in America.  Make no mistake that they could very easily be the Murdoch family.  After all, series creator Jesse Armstrong wrote an unproduced screenplay about the family disagreements.  The biggest thing about Succession is what do these families do with transitioning power.  Logan may not be ready to step down but the boss in charge needs a plan in place.

One could look at Succession as being a case study in what power means to a family.  This could be the Murdochs, Redstones, whomever.

Created by Jesse Armstrong, the series’ executive producing team includes the likes of Adam McKay and Will Ferrell.  While their names will help draw attention to the series, it’s up to the series to keep those eyes on the screen.  This is where I’m having the most trouble.  It isn’t just that I tend to be more film-centric with media but when it comes to television, a series has to be able to suck me in with the pilot.  I wish I could say this is the case with Succession but unfortunately, it’s not.

CREATOR: Jesse Armstrong
CAST:  Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Hiam Abbass, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Alan Ruck, Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen, Natalie Gold, Peter Friedman, and Rob Yang

The ten-episode first season of Succession airs Sunday nights at 10 PM ET on HBO starting June 3, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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