The Roys are horrible people. With their private jets and helicopters, their mansions, yachts and villas, they live outside of anything that might resemble ordinary human experiences.
Logan Roy is a brutal boss and a heartless, manipulative father. His kids crave his approval and sabotage each other in their quest to inherit control of Waystar, the sprawling media company he created.
Their motives are always self-serving, their greed insatiable, their cruelty knows no bounds. The world is theirs to pillage.
I admit I’m one of the millions of viewers absolutely mesmerized by this series and not just because of its brilliant writing and acting. The phenomenon of HBO’s “Succession” is that it so accurately reflects the cultural zeitgeist.
In between episodes, real life mimics the scenes depicted in the conference rooms, the lavish resorts and the limousines in the show.
Sometimes it seems as if actual events are so close to the storylines they could serve as trailers for the show.
I mean, it’s as if the writers drafted Tucker Carlson’s “It’s not how White men fight” text for him. I picture the words coming out of Roman Roy’s mouth.
“… Suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. … I could taste it,” Carlson said.
Like a perfect Roy sibling, Carlson knows his bloodlust has crossed a line, but doesn’t let that get in the way of his pursuit of power and wealth through an inexhaustible barrage of hate-filled messages.
The writers understand this perfectly and have tapped into Fox’s world of deception, corruption and cold detachment to keep the “Succession” episodes coming.
In fairness, the characters in the series, which is inspired by Fox’s fabulously rich and cynical Murdoch family, aren’t as openly racist as Tucker Carlson. That doesn’t make them good people, though.
They are just as craven as Fox’s former star hatemonger. After all, art doesn’t have to imitate life exactly to be full of insight.
Beyond its Fox comparisons, “Succession” is astute in the way it captures the everyday ruthlessness all around us.
The recent story of the three apparent sociopaths accused of throwing rocks at passing cars in Arvada, killing a 20-year-old woman and returning to the scene to take a picture as a “memento” is just one example.
Real life can be uglier than anything the writers dream up for “Succession.”
The 18-year-old suspects had been tossing rocks at moving cars in the metro area for weeks for fun. It was deadly chaos as entertainment. Who does that?
Even the deeply flawed Kendall Roy expressed remorse when he was involved in the death of a young man in a car crash in an early season. Then, of course, his father paid off the family of the victim and told his son to buck up and quit sniveling.
Only losers have a conscience.
In the second season, “Succession” confronted the issue of rape and sexual abuse in the Waystar conglomerate with execs bribing and intimidating victims and blaming the systemic problems in the company on a deceased former employee.
It was a treated merely as a PR problem, an annoying nuisance to be swept away before it affected the stock prices.
The storyline seemed almost quaint in the midst of our former president’s various legal tactics to defend himself against charges of paying hush money to a porn star and raping a woman in a department store dressing room. Real life can be so much tawdrier.
And then there is the deception theme. It underlies everything in “Succession” and, holy Dominion Voting Systems, Batman, does it resonate with current events.
A recent episode featured the launch of a new Waystar product called Living+, which was a plan for a gated real estate development the Roy offspring were pitching to the board of directors. It was sold as a Shangri la designed to meet every need of its old rich residents, enabling them to live, um, forever and generate waves of wildly inflated profits for the company.
Kendall Roy described it as a place “to warehouse the elderly and keep them drunk on content while we suck ’em dollar-dry.” Then he smiled.
All right, I know “Succession” is entertainment. It’s fiction.
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The scenes are not ripped from the headlines so much as predicting them.
Still, an essential truth underlies “Succession,” and whenever I listen to the evil Roys scheming to destroy their enemies — or each other — I’m reminded that there are real people like that in our midst. And every now and then they go down spectacularly in flames.
Occasionally it’s because of public outrage or a clever prosecutor.
More often it’s self-immolation by hubris … or text message.
I’m guessing that kind of tidy series finale is way too cheesy for the “Succession” writers.
So stay tuned. You know I will.
Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.
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