'Succession' spins media dynasty into juicy HBO drama

The obvious parallels to media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his brood provide the juicy point of entry to "Succession," a...

Posted: Jun 1, 2018 4:18 AM
Updated: Jun 1, 2018 4:18 AM

The obvious parallels to media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his brood provide the juicy point of entry to "Succession," a new HBO drama. Yet the series quickly takes on a life of its own, with an assortment of eccentric, almost uniformly unlikable characters, recalling that on TV, anyway, great wealth tends to breed a lot of high-class, outlandish problems.

The description of Logan Roy, the architect behind the fifth-largest media company in the world and a "pal to prime ministers," certainly possesses a Murdoch-ian vibe, although the producers say they drew inspiration from a number of different dynastic enterprises. Moreover, his company has a strong family-run tilt to it, with son Kendall (Jeremy Strong, upgraded from "Masters of Sex" to master of the universe) sitting as the ostensible heir apparent to dear old dad, who is played, sensationally, by Brian Cox.

Like Murdoch, the thrice-wed Roy has several children, including an older son (Alan Ruck) from his first marriage, younger party boy (Kieran Culkin) and a daughter, "Shiv" (Sarah Snook), who has stepped out of the business orbit to working in political consulting but isn't far removed from familial politics. In an introductory scene, Kendall is dismissed as a "daddy's boy" when a big deal he's trying to engineer blows up in his face, serving notice both of the weight that comes from nepotism, as well as the assumption that the apple might have fallen uncomfortably far from the tree.

"Every intern on the street knows that you're stepping up," Kendall is told, making his promotion appear inevitable. But his father has other ideas, at least, until the company is thrown into chaos when he experiences a health scare.

Created by Jesse Armstrong, directed by Adam McKay (who tackled high finance in "The Big Short") and counting Frank Rich ("Veep") among its producers, "Succession" has put together first-rate teams both in front of and behind the camera. The former includes Matthew Macfadyen, playing against type as Shiv's incredibly needy boyfriend, who works for Roy's company and is painfully desperate to earn his approval.

Not all the wrinkles work, including a subplot involving a young nephew (Nicholas Braun) who is essentially cast in the role of minnow among the sharks, trying to claim a piece of his birthright. As noted, some might also be put off by the general unpleasantness of the characters, who seem to care little for the collateral damage that their high-stakes machinations inflict -- a scenario that hasn't made Showtime's "Billions," it should be noted, any less entertaining.

While "Succession" shares certain attributes with that show, its closest cousin might actually be "Weapons of Mass Distraction," a brilliant and prescient 1997 HBO movie -- written by Larry Gelbart -- about a feud between two media moguls, who wielded their far-flung assets like pawns on a chessboard.

The new series doesn't quite rise to that level, but it does become more engrossing over the episodes previewed -- reveling in the darkly comic discomfort, in one noteworthy example, of the most awkward Thanksgiving dinner imaginable.

"We need a more dynamic strategy," Kendall -- who Strong invests with a mix of insecurity, frustration and thinly veiled anger -- tells the company's board at one point. "Because steady as she goes, it's the iceberg."

There could always be still be icebergs ahead in keeping the storyline going, and the premise doesn't feel especially compatible with "Westworld," which the series will initially follow. But given the complicated nature of the subject matter, "Succession" has navigated its launch in impressive fashion.

"Succession" premieres June 3 at 10 p.m. on HBO.

West Lafayette
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
Kokomo
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 75°
Rensselaer
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 72°
Fowler
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 72°
Williamsport
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 73°
Crawfordsville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Frankfort
Scattered Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 75°
Delphi
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 74°
Monticello
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 74°
Logansport
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 75°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51612

Reported Deaths: 2760
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12074693
Lake5650249
Elkhart361860
Allen2952134
St. Joseph214869
Hamilton1708101
Cass16459
Hendricks1466100
Johnson1345118
Porter84038
Tippecanoe7799
Vanderburgh7686
Clark71144
Madison67864
LaPorte62328
Howard60758
Bartholomew60145
Kosciusko5824
Marshall5579
Noble52028
Boone49144
LaGrange48610
Jackson4783
Delaware47552
Hancock46836
Shelby45925
Floyd41444
Monroe34828
Morgan34531
Grant32226
Dubois3096
Montgomery29820
Henry29618
Clinton2903
White27610
Dearborn26523
Warrick26129
Vigo2588
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Harrison21822
Greene19632
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1586
Daviess15117
Perry14910
Steuben1382
Orange13723
Jasper1362
Ripley1347
Franklin1288
Gibson1242
Wabash1163
Carroll1142
Starke1083
Whitley1076
Fayette1067
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells821
Randolph804
Fulton731
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush623
Posey610
Spencer571
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events