By Doly Mallet
HBO always surprises us by presenting extremely successful, controversial shows with profound messages, extraordinarily human and flawed characters, and suspenseful plots. Succession is not the exception and, as fans, we are sad to see this fourth season is the finale.
Even though it is fiction, it is loosely based on the life of Rupert Murdoch, a business magnate, owner of hundreds of national and international media outlets worldwide, including Fox News. He was ranked as the 31st richest person in the United States last year.
The show’s first season starts off by showing a magnate, Logan Roy, who is very ill. His descendants are worried about who the successor will be. Yes, it sounds greedy at first, but then we learn that the patriarch, played marvelously by Brian Cox, is one of the most villainous fathers in movies and TV.
Then, we meet the contenders for the reign, those who, throughout all the seasons, fight one another to win their father’s favor. Connor (Alan Ruck) is the eldest son from Logan’s first marriage, with no interest in the business (also, with no intelligence or abilities; he just wants to spend the money). Kendall (Jeremy Strong) is the first son from the second marriage, and has been playing the part of the successor all this time, learning everything directly from his father. He is also a drug addict and behaves as someone who is completely helpless, vulnerable, and fearful to the point of panicking when he has to deal with Logan. Siobhan (Sarah Snook) is the only daughter. She is involved in politics and is probably the smartest of them all. Lastly, Roman (Kieran Culkin), the youngest, is jaded and with a very dark sense of humor. He talks about sex all the time but has problems getting deeply involved, be it emotionally or sexually, with partners.
The series, created by Jesse Amstrong, has received 103 awards and 184 nominations in total, thanks to a superintelligent script, savvy dialogues, and the best acting you have ever seen. Yes, Brian Cox is superb, followed by Kieran Culkin, who can amazingly say disgusting sexual jokes with a sarcasm so dark that it makes you both laugh and cry. And, of course, the show’s star, Jeremy Strong, is now famous due to his method acting.
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The last time method acting was discussed widely was probably because of Daniel Day-Lewis. Now, everybody is talking about the technique again, partly due to a profile published in The New Yorker (2021), where we learned how Strong achieved such intensity in scenes. So far he has won the Emmy, the Golden Globe, the Critics Choice Award, and the SAG Award, plus 21 nominations.
Succession portrays the lifestyle of billionaires, something far beyond our reach. Despite this, and even though the characters are psychologically disturbed and fighting over an empire, we can relate. We understand them, suffer their sorrows, and translate what they are living into our ordinary lives. Succession shows humanity in all of its splendor and its decadence. It shows the deep vulnerabilities of our fears and desires.
Because it is painted with the colors of tragedy, this highly-anticipated finale will probably leave us at the edge of our seats, holding our breath, but feeling the ecstasy of the turbulent soul of human nature. Once Succession is over, it will leave a big empty chair on the TV show lineup.
Doly Mallet is a bestselling author and a professional TV and film critic.
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