Succession Is The Perfect Thanksgiving Binge

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Succession goes great with turkey. The HBO dramedy, created by Jesse Armstrong, directed by Adam McKay, and executive produced by Will Ferrell (yes, that one), is about a (fictional) family that reeks of money, oozes with greed, and spews sarcasm. They lie, they cheat, and they never miss an opportunity to fuck up each other’s day. But as much as it’s about all those terrible and entertaining things, Succession also about loyalty, nostalgia, and the unbreakable bond of even the most fucked up families. Because of this overarching theme of family dysfunction, it is (factually) the perfect Thanksgiving family binge. The impressive show will zhuzh up your own family arguments, giving them a necessary dab of holiday flair.
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The 10-episode series is perfect from the moment it starts, when the esteemed media mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox) pees in the middle of the master bedroom of his multi-million dollar Manhattan apartment. He’s like an American Bulldog come to life: a tough, grumbling, and intimidating man about to celebrate his 80th birthday. He’s also the father to four vain adult children: Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kiernan Culkin), and Connor (Alan Ruck). Together, they’re a bunch of narcissistic misfits with one-liners so biting, even Amma would wince. As grown-ups, these siblings are just as immature as they were in middle school, when they used to sneak out to the back of their summer home and smoke joints together. Only now, two of them, Kendall and Roman, are trying to take over their father’s company (which they have been pretending to contribute to for most of their adult life) after he suddenly falls ill. Shiv prefers the dirty world of politics to the underbelly of media sales and acquisition, while Connor prefers his idyllic Western estate and his live-in escort-turned-legit-girlfriend.
Then, there are the supporting characters, which is where the show really shines. There’s Cousin Greg (Nicolas Braun), who shows up in the first episode spewing vomit out of the eyes of an amusement park mascot uniform. His mom later sends him to Logan’s birthday party, where he basically begs for a job. Next up is Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), Shiv’s fiancé. He is the family’s bitch — until he realizes he can exact a tiny, but crucial, amount of power over the family’s weakest link: pukey Cousin Greg. Rounding out the not-Roy-children cast is Logan’s wife Marcia (Hiam Abbass), who is not-not constantly scheming her way to the top of Logan's media empire, and Gerri (J. Cameron Smith), the only level-headed person in the series. It’s not often that I find myself ranking and then reranking my favorite characters on a show, but I did with Succession. That’s the groundbreaking and bingable state of Succession: every character counts.
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Briefly, let's touch on the theme song: It’s an enchanting sequence of bells, chimes, and piano keys composed by Nicolas Britell (The Big Short, If Beale Street Could Talk) a master of the sound of money. It blends tension and opulence, mirroring the overall so-rich-it-hurts vibe of the series. It could be the soundtrack to your Thanksgiving.
The real brilliance of Succession isn’t just that the characters are irresistibly entertaining, but that it allows you to both stan and hate the same character. Take Roman, for example. (According to another in-house Succession connoisseur, I am Shiv with a large streak of Roman, which boils down to: I’m smart, but self-centered — we all have our flaws.) Roman sits weirdly, talks like an asshole, and breaks up with his wife on Thanksgiving because she made a joke about one of his failures at work. (He later gets a new girlfriend by simpy never leaving her side after an unconventional meet cute; the girlfriend is actually Caitlin FitzGerald aka Simone from Sweetbitter). So, Roman is a dick! He sucks. But also, he’s hilarious. He calls everyone on their bullshit, and is strangely endearing when he wants to be. He’s the kid that misbehaves in kindergarten, but he's also the unthreatening runt of the class. That combination of stupidity and elitism goes down smoothly (maybe because we all want to imagine just how miserable the 1% really is, surrounded by all that cash and corruption), and it also goes great with cranberry sauce.
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Thankfully (that’s a Thanksgiving pun for y’all), Succession has already been renewed for a second season, so you don’t have to worry about being addicted and not getting your next fix. It’s on the way, and the sophomore season is sure to be funnier and raunchier than ever. The first season didn't even really hit its stride until after episode 5 when the family (ironically — or fatefully) gathers for Thanksgiving. It’s a full mess. Imagine five courses of purely vindictive behavior with a total meltdown for dessert.
You may find a little bit of your own family in the petty and cynical interactions between the Roy family members as they figure out the succession of their fortune, their brand, and their overall happiness. Succession is just shining a spotlight on the, as Kendall so eloquently says while smoking a cigarette on his father's balcony, “usual family hatred at Thanksgiving — you know how it is.”
Just watch it, because, like Logan Roy, I know what’s best for everyone in my family. Trust me.
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