Tony Soprano, Walter White, Iago–Satan himself–and now the Roy Family. Stories about devilish characters and reprehensible behavior always seem so hard to resist. HBO’s Succession is the latest version of a cringe-worthy but binge-worthy show, full of wealthy rogues backstabbing each other as they scramble to the top of a multimedia empire. I’m embarrassed to love it. Why is such villainy fascinating?
Lifestyles of the Spoon-Fed and Conniving
Succession debuted as a drama in 2019, sliding in under the radar between the ignominious end of Game of Thrones and the rise of The Crown. It won a slew of Emmys, though I’d never heard of it when I was flipping channels at my brother’s house last month on vacation, when I had extra time on my hands. The story circles around 83-year-old Logan Roy (Brian Cox), head of the Waystar media conglomerate, who ought to be aging out of his role and passing the torch on to one of his children. But he refuses to go, even though the shareholders clamor for a succession plan and he experiences episodes of physical and mental frailty. Logan is vicious, duplicitous, domineering, and as vulgar as a recent ex-President, full of quips like: “Would you like to hear my favorite passage from Shakespeare? Take the fucking money.”
Logan’s favorite word is money, but his second favorite word is family, which is the problem. He’s one of those people who constantly espouses family values while in the next breath belittling, snarling, and smacking down–literally–his adult children. He’s raised them in his image, so none of them has the right combination of intelligence, courage, or work ethic (never mind integrity) to run an $18 billion dollar enterprise. Waystar is a unique entity: think Fox plus Disney, Republican-leaning jingoistic news combined with theme parks and cruises. Someone has even created a real twitter account for the fake theme park with bizarre but hilarious tweets:Continue reading “Villainy Is Always More Interesting”