NiT tip: “Succession” is the most entertaining series that can be seen in a confined space
It’s the only story in the world that explains why Syphilis is the MySpace Sexually Transmitted Disease. Convinced?
We were promised an epic drama, in the style of those who made HBO a trademark of prestigious series that mark generations. A power struggle within one of the most powerful American families, press tycoons, terribly rich, overly arrogant. In the end, they gave us what is perhaps the funniest and best-written series in years – and the perfect antidote to the difficult days that lie ahead.
Written by a little-known Jesse Armstrong, and with a cast of sure-named but no stars – with the exception of Brian Cox – I couldn’t predict the earthquake that would hit the year of his debut in 2018. It was then that Jeremy Strong started at the most exciting phase of his career to become one of the most valuable and sought-after actors in cinema and television today.
The genre’s surprise is repeated in the cast as well, where some unfamiliar faces are revealed – turning a group of actors into a fantastic group of characters. But let’s be honest: the first few episodes are not easy to digest.
Seeing “succession” is a bit like cooking a piece of meat. It requires a lot of attention and affection, a good marinade, and a few hours of heat, applied slowly and carefully. In the end, every sip is an orgasm.
It’s not easy to chew on this group of hateful characters. They are the ugly, swine and bad guys by Ettore Scola in an Americanized version: rich, selfish and unscrupulous. They don’t display traits that make them minimally desirable – there is no one to cheer on, and at the end of each episode we pray that the swollen ego will explode and end the suffering once and for all.
After? Then everything will be deliciously good, as will the juicy and finally tough pork belly. Once we unravel the recipe and realize that in this world of “discipleship” there are no heroes and villains, no karma, no justice or salvation. It couldn’t be otherwise.
The world of “Succession” is the orbit of Logan Roy, the old Fox and Waystar Royco leader who owns amusement parks, cruises, and a media empire based on conservative and sensational channels – a parallel with Fox and who knows Rupert Murdoch, in a resemblance that the scriptwriters make little effort to hide. Or as it is described in the series: “WayStar Royco, we do hate speech and roller coasters”.
Small planets survive around him, always looking for his father’s approval (and money) in a game of advances and retreats. In Logan Roy’s head he is “surrounded by snakes and idiots”. Everything is a game of interests, sometimes hidden, sometimes out in the open – usually around a table, the preferred setting in “succession” to portray a perfect picture of a dysfunctional family.
It is in these moments that the scriptwriter’s sharp pen shines. The colloquial language has never been as funny as the one that comes out of the mouth of this privileged band. It’s the little brushstrokes of vulgarity – and the realization – that “following” is really fun, especially when tossed from father to son.
Every actor is a perfect match for the character that is delivered to them. Jeremy Strong in the role of the talented but insecure son. Kieran Culkin (yes, Macaulay’s brother) as an irresponsible son. Matthew Macfayden, the professional bootlicker who wants to marry Logan’s daughter. And finally, cousin Greg, the comic relief that is the target of the funniest jokes in the series. The cast is really one of the secret ingredients, or as Tom Wamsgans would say, “You can’t make Tomlettes break Greggs”.
The unusual execution of “Successon” sets it apart from anything we’ve seen on television. The dialogues, which are close to 20 on the Aaron Sorkin scale and have recruited Jeremy Strong for his “Chicago 7”, are fired at high speed.
They are joined by the electrical and restless footage that is always in motion and sometimes enlarges the facial expressions of some characters and now slides down a corridor at the fast pace of an executive. The combination is perfect – although many complain about the nausea caused by the sudden changes.
However, the magic begins long before insults are thrown between the Roys. In general, the small nuances and secrets of the series are revealed, as explained in detail here by composer Nicholas Britell, who signs the soundtracks of productions such as “The Great Bet”, “The King” or “Moonlight”.
Fortunately, this is not one of the cases where quality is not recognized. “Succession” was entitled to its deserved share of the Emmys and the Golden Globes. Jesse Armstrong’s writing received an Emmy in 2019, but 2020 was the year of consecration, with accolades for his performance of playing Jeremy Strong for best actor in a drama, again for writing, and again for the cast. To top the ceremony, “Succession” won the title of Best Drama Series: It Wins On The Territory Of Others And Still Remains The Best Black Comedy On TV.
With two seasons available on HBO Portugal (and a third on the way, it is not yet known when) and 20 episodes at a glance, this is probably the best suggestion we can make to liven up the tough days of detention ahead . We guarantee only one thing: you will not stop laughing. Along the way, follow Logan Roy’s advice and keep your laugh at a normal volume. After all, his parents didn’t pick him up from a hyena farm.