7 times we both loved and loathed the Roy family in Succession
With Succession Season 3 being released on 17 October 2021 (new episodes will land weekly on Showmax in South Africa from 18 October 2021), it’s time to either relive the best moments of the first two seasons of Succession, streaming on Showmax, or find out why you should be cramming in those 20 episodes right now.
(For newbies, how long should you give it before being hooked? The Atlantic has some advice.)
Succession is about the jaw-droppingly rich Roy family, all of whom are vile and unlikeable. That’s how the show has been promoted; we’re not supposed to find sympathy for any of them. They are obnoxious, in their own special ways, but strangely enough, over time they become more endearing, pitiful even.
Watch the trailer for Succession Season 3
Logan Roy (Brian Cox) is the patriarch, who has four children: Connor (Alan Ruck), Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan/Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman/Rome/Romulus (Kieran Culkin). Then there’s Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) who is engaged then married to Shiv, and cousin Greg (the egg), played by lanky Nicholas Braun.
The series is billed as a “comedy drama” and at first glance, the funny part is not immediately apparent; but it’s definitely there. It’s in the subtle little throwaway lines, such as Rome to Kendall (who has a drug problem): “Beavis and Crackhead”; at a party when a Sphinx cat brushes past her, Shiv calls it a “penis cat”; and when it’s suggested someone has syphilis, Tom refers to it as the “MySpace of STDs”.
While we see the end result on the screen via superb acting and highly distinctive personalities (right down to wardrobe and mannerisms), kudos to the writing team for maintaining brilliance throughout.
Here, in no ranking order, is my list of the best moments of Succession Seasons 1 and 2 (spoiler alert), not necessarily because they’re admirable but because they are mostly awful and shocking, and illustrate what Succession is all about: rich, entitled and privileged people behaving badly.
There’s no time to set up the full background for these, or discuss the various personality disorders and their origins, so off you go to the recap links, or better yet, watch. You can also read more about the series’ top moments – some of which are the same as mine – from The Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian and Screen Rant.
1. Best moments of Succession – Season 1: The ball game
In the series premiere, Logan is grumpily celebrating his 80th birthday with a “surprise” party and the suggestion he will announce Kendall as his successor at Waystar Royco. (This coveted position is a ball that gets lobbed back and forth between the siblings throughout.)
After lunch he loads everyone onto helicopters to go play a game of softball. Roman sees a Latino couple with a son watching, and offers the boy a cheque for a million dollars if he can score a home run. The family are stunned and excited, but when the kid fails, Rome tears up the cheque in front of them, handing over a scrap of paper saying “here’s a quarter of a million” as he turns his back and walks off. Afterwards we see a staff member having them sign an NDA in exchange for an envelope with probably a lot less than a million bucks but enough to make the problem go away.
2. Best moments of Succession – Seasons 1-2: Gerri and Roman behind closed doors
Rome again. We learn quite early on that although he’s full of wisecracks and bravado, he’s hiding some legitimate sexual dysfunction. Maybe it’s because he’s short, or the baby of the family, or because no one thinks he has what it takes to succeed in the family business.
He has a girlfriend, Tabitha (Caitlin Fitzgerald, Masters of Sex), with whom he has never consummated the relationship. One night when they are apart, they attempt phone sex as Tabitha is about to get into a bubble bath. She makes all the appropriate noises but Rome is impatient and not turned on. Then he calls Gerri (J Smith-Cameron), the firm’s general legal counsel, and, it turns out, he’s got no such problem with Gerri, especially when she insults him. This is just the beginning of their dalliance.
3. Best moments of Succession – Season 1: Shiv and Tom’s wedding night
One more: when Rome arrives at Tom and Shiv’s wedding, he has Tabitha as his date. Previously, Rome organised a debauched stag night for Tom, and Shiv gave him a hall pass, which he used to get a blow job from a woman at the party (there’s more to it but I’m not quite sure how far we can go here…)
That woman was Tabitha. Cue awkward introduction to Shiv, who has been having an affair with a colleague. After they’re married and she allowed Tom to chase away the lover to make him feel like a big man, she tells him she’s not able to be in a monogamous marriage. He’s ambushed into agreeing but it never sits well with him (see Season 2, episode 10).
4. Best moments of Succession – Seasons 1-2: Every time Greg stands up to Tom
Let’s talk about Tom and Greg. Tom is undisputedly a Class A a**hole. We can understand how the Roy offspring can be as hideous as they are, given their upbringing with a monster of a father who exploits their every weakness. But Tom? He’s not blood, so what’s his excuse? He is massively rude. He is Town Mouse to cousin Greg’s Country Mouse, who he uses and abuses, taking advantage of Greg’s apparent naïvety.
Greg lopes around like a Great Dane, but he’s perhaps a bit smarter than he lets on (keeping copies of some incriminating documents Tom tells him to destroy; I’m wondering if these will surface in Season 3), turns out to be a fast learner and is definitely a Roy (his grandad is Logan’s estranged brother; they hate each other and are equally mean, petty, spiteful and vindictive).
There is a treasure trove of Tom and Greg moments (like Tom’s disastrous testimony to Congress); one gem in particular is Tom’s reaction when he realises he – and Greg – are not actually in the proper panic room after a shooting in the office; he throws quite the tantrum.
5. Best moments of Succession – Seasons 1-2: Logan, everyone else, and the F word
Logan, Logan, Logan. He is a really nasty piece of work, but apparently that’s what it takes to be successful in business. You have to be a “killer”, which he rubs Kendall’s nose in, literally and figuratively, throughout the series as Ken repeatedly fails to oust Logan from his position and take over the top spot.
Logan is mean to everyone, except maybe Marcia (Hiam Abbas), his current wife, who positions herself as Logan’s gatekeeper. He screams at staff (in one instance, indirectly becoming responsible for a fatal car crash, for which he allows Kendall to bear all the guilt and at the same time promises to keep him safe), and tells family members to “f**k off” – a blanket expletive for any situation, all the time. I’ve been practising saying it like he does but I haven’t quite got it right yet. The Dipp reports he says it 27 times in the two seasons but I’m feeling that’s a rather low count. Maybe because everyone else says it too.
6. Best moments of Succession – Seasons 1-2: Connor’s interest in politics
As for Connor – all I can say is, shame. He’s a bit of a dork, and he doesn’t seem to have any kind of meaningful employment. When he decides to run for president – on a no tax platform, can you even with these rich people! – he embarrasses the family. He gets ribbed for running for the most important job in the world when he’s never actually had any job in his life.
His girlfriend Willa (Justine Lupe, Mr Mercedes) is a former sex worker, something that the rest of the family never miss an opportunity to bring up as a joke at his expense. He’s besotted with her but she doesn’t seem to feel quite the same, but his money is useful for funding the play she’s writing. It gets bad reviews, and Connor sidles up to Daddy to ask for a little loan of … $100 million. Yep, those are the waters we’re swimming in. Sure, says Logan, drop your presidential campaign, you buffoon, and we have a deal. Nothing for nothing in the Roy family.
7. Best moments of Succession – Season 2: Kendall’s press conference
I think we are all in agreement that Season 2’s finale is a cracker, especially that final scene. After much deliberation and discussion on board the Roy’s luxury yacht (read: small ship) about who to throw under the bus for the dirty deeds in the company’s cruise division, Kendall is nominated. In an emotional private meeting with Logan, he says it’s fitting retribution for that fatal car crash at the end of Season 1, which has been tormenting him.
The next morning, Kendall holds a press conference, and explains why he is there … and then, looking directly into the camera, one tiny word changes everything: “But”. He proceeds to call his father a “malignant presence, a bully and a liar” and that he knew about the coverups and millions of dollars paid out to victims of sexual harassment and abuse.
Cut to Logan and Shiv watching back on the yacht, a close up on Logan’s face … is that the hint of a smile? Is it part of the plan? Is he finally proud of Kendall for publicly defying him? All will be revealed in Season 3. I hope.
Looking for more quality HBO content in South Africa? Here is our list of the best HBO shows and where to stream them.
Where to watch the best moments of Succession S1-2
All episodes of Succession S1-2 are available to binge-watch on Showmax.
Where to watch Succession Season 3
New episodes of Succession Season 3 will land weekly on Showmax, every Monday, express from the USA from 18 October 2021 to 13 December 2021.
Succession Season 3 release date
The premiere date of Succession Season 3 is 17 October 2021 in the US. The first episode of Succession Season 3 will land on Showmax on 18 October 2021, express from the US. New episodes will land weekly, every Monday, from 18 October.