‘SUCCESSION’ SEASON ONE: BETRAYAL OFTEN REVEALS A DEEPER DEVASTATION
Have you ever watched a show simply because of the theme song?
Succession, is a TV show about a family that has built its empire through their skill in “turning evil into currency,” as the imperial patriarch so nicely put it. The show illustrates the perils of making your children codependent and working/seeking of parental approval.
Succession which has been pioneered by HBO was originally released on June 3, 2018 and created by Jesse Armstrong and has already won the status of must-watch among drama lovers. It takes a brutal and edgy take to a simple story about the head of a media company called Waystar Royco who refuses to retire and give up the power to his company despite his old age and increasing medical ails.
Every moment of Succession is so well thought out and exhilarating. You feel richer just listening to the theme song of the show. It evokes the feeling of power and might.
The first episode of Succession isn’t typical like others in it’s introduction. It is however deceptive in seeming like the rest of the show will be predictable because of how clear Roman’s personality seemed early on. But, throughout the show we discover the raw, and anxious part of his personality, every moment since our introduction to the character stands to shift the elected narrative of the show, while endowing blowing surprises throughout to maintain engagement.
Early on, we are shown the callous and tough personality of Logan Roy as he announces in quite a cavalier and thoughtless manner to his family that he no longer plans on retiring as expected on his 80th birthday. This hints at the bitter taste and cruel undertone of the show.
Logan built his company Waystar Royco from the ground up and he lacks confidence in his second son who would have been his replacement as the new CEO.
His children are shells of him because of his dominating personality and that’s mainly tied to his failure as a parent to educate and nurture their independence and identity.
Kendall Roy, the prodigal son and recovering drug addict is pernicious, soft and easily intimidated against his father who he’s dubbed a ‘beast’. In the first episode he seems pathetic, overly emotional and almost cowardly in how quickly he folds in his decisions. But as the show carries forward, the depths of his damage and the reasoning for Logan’s anxiousness over him is slowly revealed. Kendall undermines his fathers’ authority with a hero complex which he uses as an excuse to deceive and take actions which he knows would be harmful to both his father and his family. But he keeps telling himself that it is all in the good of the family and the business.
However, he’s not the only bad seed. Logan has three other children: Conner Roy, Roman Roy and Siobhan (Chiv), each more capricious than the other.
They are all focused on their inheritance and the power that comes with being a Roy and they won’t let anyone, including each other, get in their way. They seem to automatically defer to working for Royco as their only path and forget to realize that one of the benefits of being wealthy, is that you have choices and opportunities to do whatever invites passion. Instead of scheming, they could very easily start their own ventures or discover what they are passionate about. Yet, the season is filled them fighting to stay within the comfort of the Roy identity and the legacy their father has established.
Each episode of Succession reveals how toxic and dysfunctional the Roy family is, first observed in the first episode in how Logan is quick to emotionally abuse his children in order to gain obedience but once Logan suffers a stroke everything changes.
Kendall leads the pack in betrayal. He was stripped of the CEO position since his father refused to retire but with his father ill and armed with contentious details about him, no one can refute his story about the discussion between him and his father. In his short stead as the CEO, the stock price of the companies shares tank, so much so that a bank that had been holding debt for the company decided to retrieve their investment, citing lack of confidence in the new CEO. It’s then that he realizes that the company was in a 3 billion dollar debt which his father garnered through a series of spending sprees in an effort to expand his business. This issue, among other concerns about the company becoming obsolete in a changing landscape of media and consumption of information, leads Kendall to invite a tech company to the board despite clear evidence about its member’s hostility towards his family. He even jumps into a dangerous business deal with one of his best friends who self identifies as a parasite.
Unluckily for him, Logan wakes up and refuses to allow the company to deteriorate and is very resistant to change. He hadn’t fully recovered from his stroke but he refuses to reveal how truly sick he is despite his slight moments of absence and where his actions are clearly unsettling and strange. These moments trigger concern for Kendall for his father’s health, his fathers remaining power, and effectively his own.
The episodes that follow this twist, leads to exchanges between the novice and seasoned strategist. Of course with a father like Logan, every swing by Kendall is met with an intense and calm defense that leaves Kendall reeling.
As the tension continues to mount, more family dysfunction ensues and a wedding is thrown in the mix. Still, Logan is met with other attacks and never gets a moment of calm.
The season finale was so perfectly written that I felt an impulse to applaud the show, because of how shocked and amazed I was at the degree of effort delivered in a show that was so clearly crafted with care and clarity.
Succession is really a cautionary tale of spoiling your children and a lesson on the importance of nourishing them to be able to survive in the world independently. It’s a reminder that children need to be encouraged to come into their own identity so that they are able and willing to grow something of their own. Each of the children in one shape or form rely on their family name, Conner even makes being a Roy his vocation.
Had Kendall invented something of his own, he may not have been so quick to deceive the family so bitterly that he would earn the name Judas.
The story is overcoming. The acting, outstanding, and even characters like Logan seem decent after a while because of the thoughtful development of each personality.
Succession is very sobering and calming as it causes an uncontrollable addiction which grows steadily and slowly. It can only be described as a great show.