Jesse Armstrong oversaw the last great writers’ room.
TV's golden age ended several years ago. IMO Breaking Bad was the last of the great, truly original shows. Succession is well written, no doubt, and very slick. I watched the first five episodes and would have believed it if you had told me it was written by AI, however, just like any other new show from the last several years. Everything feels like it is written and casted according to an algorithm. More than that, who exactly from Succession was I supposed to care about? Who showed even a hint of real humanity? Compare that show to the Sopranos, where every role was casted perfectly and your main characters, while doing despicable things, showed flashes of real humanity which leads the viewer to actually care about them. Tony Soprano still stands as maybe the best written, most iconic character in TV history. None of the characters from Succession will be part of the popular lexicon in five years.
It has its moments but Deadwood has it beat by a South Dakota mile. I do give them credit for ending the show rather then meandering about in success such as GOT or even Lost. Of course the portrayal of Right wing politicians is a fever dream of writers and the occasional violence of the last season is never fully identified as who is doing it. Memo to writers, Manhattan was boarded up because leftists were going to burn parts of the country. Pretty much the same people targeting Jewish people in the streets right now and attacking government buildings in the name of Palestine.
I tried watching Succession, but dropped out after a few episodes. I simply couldn’t stomach its deeply unlikable characters and could not have cared less what happened to them. In stark contrast, masterpieces such as Mad Men and The Americans had deeply flawed characters whom we cared for deeply and rooted for.
Super unlikeable, exaggerated characters. Absolutely ridiculous, completely unrealistic corporate decision-making and situations. Comic book-level picturing of right-wing politics. And it went on at least a season too long. Sorry, but Succession can't hold a candle to Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Deadwood, Justified, The Shield, The Sopranos, or any of a dozen other shows. It's a testament to how mediocre even the 'best' of today's shows are that merely decent programs like Beef and Succession are trumpeted as great. SMH.
Watching worldly, but uninhibitedly predatory siblings jockey for position isn’t my cup of tea. But I did watch an entire season of it over a few days just to be sure, hoping it would improve. But alas, it just got worse.
wow, the anti-Succession crowd is in the house today! It was, objectively, the best show ever aired. And by objectively, I mean as objectively determined by me. The writing was impeccable, and so finely tuned to the various characters. While almost every single sentence written for the show was part high drama and part funny as hell, they were also perfectly distributed among the characters. So many characters in the same high powered corporate setting. And yet they were each just packaged so tightly that each line could only be said by one particular character. Probably the only show where I cried at the end, and it wasn't even sad. It was just over.
Fitting tribute to an incredible show. The writers gave us so many memorable phrases like breaking Gregs to make a Tomlette, Roman are you a sicko, and the immortal f*** off. Nicholas Britell deserves recognition for a fantastic soundtrack that set the mood for the dialogue - perfect tracks to listen to while writing...
Commenters: another non-fan of Succession here...please continue to contribute your faves to the comments. We’re all different in our druthers but it give me some new ones to try.
I think this article falls under, "Who gives a damn?".
I could give two flips about the glitterati TV and movie industry. It seems to me that every time one of those egomaniacs in the industry opens their mouth it proves that they have their head up their ass. If you don't believe me just watch Susan Sarandon, Robert De Niro or Jane Fonda speak.
My favorite show ever is “My Brilliant Friend.” Watch it....you won’t be disappointed.
The Wire. Best TV ever. Characters so complex, you cared about them. All star cast with Idris Elba, Lance Reddick, Dominic West,
wendell Pierce, and my personal favorite, Michael Kenneth Williams.
Each season tackled a different aspect to life in Baltimore.
Succession was cringeworthy. I would have to be in a certain mind set just to watch it. It was not inspiring TV, that’s for sure.
Everyone was telling me how good Succession was , but I couldn’t get interested. I could see some obvious parallels to real world figures ( Murdoch, Trump siblings) in the premise, but why would I want to invite these people into my home? Give me something adult and aspirational like For All Mankind ( who had a complex banger of a 4th season) or Lessons in Chemistry. If I want to watch people behaving badly there’s “reality” shows. I don’t watch those either
I think this author was paid by the word and the biggest most pretentious words got extra credit.
I loved Succession - all except for how the Roy siblings spoke in half-sentences, lots of forced pauses, UMs, Ken? Shiv? Rome? It drove me crazy!!
TV’s Golden Age
TV’s Golden Age tanked long before Succession. The rise of the streamers during peak pandemic was the embodiment of the decline just with more money, like the Marvelizing of movies. Netflix starting around the time they released Sense 8 went full steam ahead releasing mountains of mediocrities. Prime and HBO followed suit with forgettable but critically heralded fare such as Mozart in the Jungle or Transed.
While buoyed by a pandemic captive audience the rot had set in. Millions binged watched their way through countless shows that consistently after episode three or four would peter out. There were a few bright spots that held out promises of better things to come such as Black Mirror or The Terror. But the crap machine was in high gear cranking out one forgettable tome after another.
Then the unexpected happen. People began to venture out of their houses as the pandemic waned taking their attention spans with them. Compounding the streamer’s woes was the post George Floyd “Great Awokening” of all media giants. This gave us a historically incoherent black Anne Boleyn and Estella and girls who skateboarded in Betty, despite being uninteresting and not good at it. But hey, they were multi ethnic and girls. The crowning achievement was Anna Duvernay’s revisionist scoldfest, When They See Us. While the shit show that is Ted Lasso’s last season seemed to be written by an AI DEI administrator.
Despite the Awokenings poor ratings, the conglomerates have not let up on the DEI gas. Disney’s commitment to ideological capture, is best embodied in the words of the great Cartman of South Park, “Cast a chick and make her gay.” Be it movie or TV show, the largest entertainment engine has imbued every release with a DEI gesture in cast or script. See Snow Brown and the Seven diverse marginalized misfits. Netflix continually cranks out propaganda like Queens episode of the now magically black Macedonian, “Cleopatra”. They are now in production of casting the great Phoenician ruler descended from what are essentially Lebanese Semites, who at 34 gave Rome a hard time as a 68 year old black man named Denzel Washington. Then of course, the Exorcist reboot features a girl who harbors delusions she’s a guy. At least the demonically possessed were not so confused. Either way, representation for its own sake does not a storyline make.
The decline of TV boils down to the creative desert of bean counters combined with the mendacious rot of DEI. DIE would be a more apt acronym. Streamers hold their viewers in contempt. Taking us for fools, we take our eyeballs and our most precious commodity, time, elsewhere.
Here's one thing that I finally realized about the writing in Succession that made it so effective and addicting to me:
It never spoonfed you. Other shows are tempted to give an exposition dump to (usually awkwardly) spell out what is going on in any given episode. Succession never did that. It trusted me and my intelligence enough that I would figure it out, and I trusted the writers enough that they would let eventually me know what I needed to, without being bashed over the head with it.
I appreciated that. And dang, I miss the show.