Nothing predicted everything that happened with succession. In the weeks leading up to its summer 2018 release, this satirical drama about fake Murdochs had raised only moderate anticipation. The maximum claim was not its creator, as in the past it could be normal in an HBO production, nor its cast, without a clear star in front, but the presence as director and producer of adam mckay, who had recently won an Oscar for the script for ‘The Big Short’ and had not yet released the less fortunate ‘The Vice of Power’. There was curiosity, but not general enthusiasm.
The reviews were of various colors, and although the positive ones won, any idea of a consensus like the current one seemed utopia. Even those of us who most admired the screenwriter Jesse Armstrong (for series like ‘Peep show’ or ‘Fresh meat’) we admitted, especially to ourselves, that the first episodes were lacking a cooking point. But it is usual with comedies, and ‘Succession’ is one of them, as well as a tragedy: a trial period is always needed to find the best friction, refine the chaos, master the rhythms.
“The tone is very particular, and it has been improving as the series progressed,” agreed Holly Hunteraka Rhea Jarrell, Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) former rival, when we interviewed her about joining the cast.
For that to end, it was necessary to gather all the characters in one place and give them free rein to come clean. It was what they did in a memorable seventh episode, ‘Austerlitz’, which is not an adaptation of the melancholic book by W. G. Sebald but hilarious chronicle of a family therapy that is, deep down, a ruse to make the shares rise. There was also important human chaos in ‘Nunca falta nadie’, a great ‘finale’ that invited to establish parallels with the fatal accident suffered by ted kennedy at Chappaquiddick in 1969.
But it was mostly with the second and, above all, third seasons, both awarded with the Emmy for best drama serieswhen ‘Succession’ became part of the pantheon of the last golden age of television, along with ‘The Sopranos’, ‘The wire’ or ‘Breaking bad’.
reasons to love her
There is no single secret ingredient that has made ‘Succession’ a global obsession. The series is greater than the sum of many successful parts. But surely schadenfreude has had a lot to do with it, the delight we take in the misfortunes of others, especially people with much more money than us. The super-rich in ‘Succession’ not only sometimes fail to get what they want, they can get it and still be unhappy. That has relaxed and amused a few of us. Here, too, there is no rich pornography of ‘Gossip girl’ or ‘Emily in Paris’: these people move in a cold world, soulless, in perpetual transit towards spiritual emptiness.
And yet, suddenly, we could be assaulted by feelings. The Roys may be despicable, but they’re not just that. Nobody is just one thing. If they were only despicable we wouldn’t want to spend more than one episode with them. The drama of the brothers is universal: they are eternal children who want to be accepted by a father with a limited capacity to show his affection, even though he has it and that is “his weakness”, as Brian Cox has declared. When we attended the filming of the second series in Scotland, Jeremy Strong (Kendall Roy) explained the tribulations of these boys: “They have grown up with all the trappings of power, under the best of economic circumstances. But at no time was any class instilled in them. of personal security. Still today, every time they try to assert themselves, their father undermines them.”
And how. Seasoned alongside satire expert Armando Iannucci (‘The thick of it’, ‘Veep’), Armstrong knows how to put the most ingenious rudeness into the mouths of his characters, especially Logan. An example: “Tell him I’m going to grind his bloody bones to make bread.” Or one more in a million: “Karl, if your hands are clean it’s because they also do manicures in your brothel.”
A haunting theme song
On the other hand, it would be irresponsible to talk about the magnetism of ‘Succession’ without referring to the strange powers of its soundtrack. We are not referring to Kendall’s embarrassing rap or Roman’s improvised song to deliver the worst news to her sister, although a bit too. We talked, above all, about the great main theme composed by Nicholas Britell, half eighteenth-century music, half fully-fledged hip hop (rapper Pusha T. came to release a remix), all addiction. Stop hearing it every Monday will be a tragedy without half measures.