How Emmy winning drama Succession has cast a spell on viewers worldwide-Entertainment News , Firstpost

Having Won 4 Emmys Again Succession Reproves that Nothing Works As Well As Vicious Family Sagas worldwide.

HBO has had yet another golden run at the Emmy Awards with Succession. Their flagship family drama has won multiple nominations and four awards- Best Drama Series, Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role for Matthew MacFayden, Outstanding Writing for A Drama Series for Jesse Armstrong; and Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series for Avy Kaufman and Francine Maisler.

Succession is the biggest, most high-impact series from HBO after the cult Game of Thrones. It’s third season delivered a stunning and unexpected finale, leaving viewers wondering what could possibly come next from the Roys- the family at the centre of this show. The final episode of this season recorded 1.7 million viewers watching it worldwide, indicating that people caught it on streaming at all hours of the day and night in non-Western markets. Overall Succession brought the platform a jump of 21 percent viewership with its third, highly emotional season, raking in over 7 million viewers globally.

The key to the success of Succession is simple- at its heart is an effective, and unpredictable family with One percent problems and a constant power tussle for control over a multimillion-dollar global media conglomerate. While Logan Roy is ailing and out of touch with fast-changing media consumption patterns in the Internet age, he bounces back basis of his sheer wiliness and desire to keep control. His children- Kendall Roy, Roman Roy and Shiv Roy- either step out of line and break away; or continue to be in his shadow in the hope of gaining succession of his company. In the mix is their mother, an indifferent British aristocrat who actually makes a crucial choice in altering her childrens’ destiny in the latest season. And there’s Matthew McFayden as Shiv’s husband, a commoner of sorts who betrays her to further self-interest and to express accumulated hurt of his wife’s condescending treatment. Logan Roy is surrounded by a bunch of loyal, ageing and arguing executives that he trusts over his children.

Succession is filmed with luxury to capture the incredible comforts that billionaires so take for granted. But it also focuses on their discomfort- trapped in traffic, sailing on a super yacht with a blazing sun, stuck in Italy to attend a family wedding while constantly being on phones and online to organize a coup of sorts, and unable to face their own grave mistakes. It shows the wreckage that the burden of a lineage and family name can bring. It also plays to the standard insecurities that underline family interactions for many of the super-wealthy. No one can be trusted but no one can be let go either, for everyone knows too much. It gets you laughing when it shows fully grown, greying executives bicker like children for Logan Roy’s attention, who can sometimes leave the building, so to speak, in a state of mental fugue. Humor is a key driver in making Succession work. In fact, awkward scenes like Roman’s pictures of his private parts shared with an ageing female executive (J Smith Cameron) as a joke; or a young cousin ending up hiring a Marxist lawyer accidentally enrich the world that it’s characters inhabit, showing how insensitivity and selfish behaviour is perfectly acceptable amongst them.

In its focus on the fact that families are imperfect and basically argumentative, Succession creates a story that everyone can relate with. Jesse Armstrong, the showrunner had been working on a concept that involved a day in the life of the Murdochs- the media barons of the West. It never worked out. This led to building a fictional story about the primary battle that could potentially brew between Murdoch’s children- that of succession. Having worked on the pilot with director Adam McKay (The Big Short, Don’t Look Up), Armstrong wrote the pilot; and then put together a team of like-minded writers that build each character and its graph individually. It is a team that can keep a secret, for like Brian Cox has let on, no one knows what happens in season 4. Or if there will be a season 5. No actor’s contract has been renewed yet.

A big part of the success of this series is also it’s casting, with has been rightfully awarded. Be it Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin or Sarah Snook, actors on board were not highly visible stars when they were cast. Each comes with a record of fine performances, and can inhabit a character. This has worked for the series. For instance, Jeremy Strong, whose method acting reports gets a lot of press attention, has created a vulnerable, flawed and likeable character with Kendall Roy. He is burdened with the guilt of covering up a real crime, a human error that led to grave consequences. In the third season, there is a moment when he has burnt money to throw a typically silly, epic birthday bash to declare his independence from his father. But when the party’s hyper-planned set-up loses his kids’ birthday present from him, he has a near meltdown.

Kendall’s attempt to target his father and his company in a sexual abuse and mistreatment scandal fails, as does his effort to stand out as an independent man. From there on his character slides throughout the season. Strong has won an Emmy for an earlier season and his character remains a major draw in the complexities of Succession. When his father refers to an innocent victim’s death as inconsequential because there it is NPRI- No real person involved, a reference to powerless common folk for Logan Roy- then that shows to him just how emotionally detached his role model is. Scenes like these, that say little but are loaded with the essence of the show, a nonstop grab for the seat of power.

Families are not united. Those families with money and inheritances are definitely not united. A lot of is papered over and covered up. The occasional family feud that enters business and makes news is when this becomes visible to the public. In Season 3, when Matthew MacFayden’s Tom decides to betray his wife without qualms, his choice is questionable; but it is also justified for what he has faced over the years. Succession balances this thin line of good, bad and ugly, in seven-star luxury throughout its episodes. And this is what keeps viewers hooked to a story where no real dramatic highs- like deaths, chases, or crimes- proliferate in the story.

In signature form, Cox told the media after the Emmys that unlike Billions, also a 1 percent super wealthy world drama about egos of business tycoons, Succession will not overstay it’s welcome. Perhaps with its sharp focus on staying true to its title, the show’s upcoming season will hold more surprises. In any case, Succession has changed the benchmark for writing a family drama, and will always hold its charm over audiences.

Archita Kashyap is an experienced journalist and writer on film, music, and pop culture. She has handled entertainment content for broadcast news and digital platforms over 15 years. 

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