I cannot believe that I have not seen a single episode of this series despite all the accolades it has received since its inception in 2018. This includes received numerous awards and nominations received from various television award ceremonies. Most recently, it got a stunning 27 Emmy nominations for its final season 4, which included acting nods for many of its cast members! This is only second to Game of Thrones’ record 32 nominations. All these positive news combined with the fact that Season 4 is officially the final season has inspired me to binge watch all four seasons to catch up and see what all the excitement was about.
I finally finished all four seasons, and my verdict? Well, I must admit that I was not as taken with the series as the Emmy voters were. While I do not dislike the series, I am also not particularly blown away by it. It is certainly not in the same league as the greatness of Game of Thrones (well, at least not the first 6 seasons of GoT). The high number of Emmy nominations especially the multiple nominations for the cast members, is probably an exaggeration of its calibre.
The overall plot involves the siblings of the founder and CEO of a super huge global company, Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox), fighting over the control the company when their father retires. This is a popular premise for many movies and TV series (think Dallas, and Dynasty) providing much fodder for inter family rifts and drama. The series’ creator and head writer Jesse Armstrong has come up with a complex web of characters and situations to wet the viewers’ appetite for satirical comedy-drama which explains its success in gaining a captured audience over the years. There is, however, no plot elements here to support any premise of a battle between good over evil. No, at best what we have here is the fight between evil vs evil. This is because every single character in the show is despicable and selfish. You will not find anyone to root for because everybody is so damn unpleasant. In fact, I would add that Jesse Armstrong has an uncanny talent for coming up with annoying characters and annoying mannerism. There are several characters here who I would not want to know or be near to in real life. Top on my list is Roman Roy (played by Kieran Culkin), the youngest sibling to the Roy dynasty and Greg (played by Nicholas Braun), the good for nothing nephew. There are many other irritating characters but these two are the best of the worst. It is one thing to have characters who are emotionally and ethically immoral, but it is another to have characters that are so irritating they simply make you feel like withdrawing away from their presence.
Here are my summary minute reviews of each of the four seasons of Succession:
Season 1 (2018) Rating: ⭐⭐ 1/2
This first season introduces us to the various (annoying) characters but spend much of the time within the confines of the office and home. This makes the series feel a bit constricted and claustrophobic. The odd camera style made many scenes feel like they were filmed using a handheld camera with the tendency for making sudden zoom in shots on characters’ faces which felt awkward and pretentious to me. The highlight for me was the final episode that focused on daughter Shiv Roy’s wedding in a castle, and the cliff hanger ending.
Season 2 (2019) Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
The season started off great with what appears like an immediate improvement on locales and bigger budgets. There are some lovely outdoor shots of exotic locations like Iceland, Hungary and the Mediterranean. The annoying sudden zoom in on characters’ faces was also toned down significantly. This season also had more juicy stuff like the hunting retreat in Hungary, the explosive weekend at the family estate of a wealthy family who the Roy’s were trying to buy over their newspaper business from, and an elaborate 50th anniversary of Logan’s reign of his company. The season also ends with one hell of a cliffhanger.
Season 3 (2021) Rating: ⭐⭐
This is my least favourite season because it somehow felt like it was not going anywhere as the season covered familiar grounds over and over again with the plot progressing nowhere. All the political intrigue involving the presidential election and the inter company offers and counter offers to buy each other off were to say the least, bewildering. Things picked up finally towards the end of the season when the Roys travelled to Tuscany to attend their mother’s wedding offering opportunities for more scandalous behaviour amidst the celebration. And of course the cliffhanger ending with the siblings ganging up against their father was an exciting way to end the season.
Season 4 (2023) Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
The final season is probably the one to beat with the death of Logan being introduced early in the season. The repercussions from his demise set the stage for more desperate backstabbing and double crossing and counter double crossing to see who finally gets to acquire the company and sit at the throne as CEO. I did not however, think the ending provided a satisfactory closure as it felt like a miserably ever after ending. Then again, given how totally unsympathetic all the characters were in the series, this is probably a befitting ending. It just didn’t provide a feel good ending.