Showing posts with label Succession. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Succession. Show all posts

Monday, May 29, 2023

Succession ends it.


At last, we come to the absolute end of HBO's family / business drama Succession and for that, ending all storylines after the series' fourth season, is a favor that cannot be understated. Showtime's business fiction Billions, coming soon for a seventh season, has gone from a guilty pleasure where a viewer of average income can observe fictional billionaires behaving as biblical swine would, which is badly, immorally, narcissistic. But what should have stopped at a fourth or perhaps a fifth season has sped by, all the signs that it was time to start wrapping things up. The show concerns how powerful people in high-level law enforcement offices and in high stakes financial companies gain, lose and regain advantage in scenarios that have lost any sort of aspect of the thrill of it all. So, here comes season 7. With any luck, it will be the final year, albeit two seasons too late. The show was already a live action cartoon, an enjoyable one, but the plot points it's staked out for its next go round will be the kind of chronic sensationalism Showtime habitually extends beyond the entertainment value. 

For Succession, it's obvious that they've preferred tragedy to mean-spirited slapstick, and it is clear that the character arcs set out by the writers have led us through these four seasons to a situation that is painfully, obviously without resolution: what I'll say is that despite the wealth of these characters, it's a sure bet among viewers that it won't end well by the time one makes their way to the movie length final episode of Season 4. This is a collective tragedy, not an individual one, the fatal flaw being that the three main siblings have spent all the seasons trying to please a cruel father, even after Logan’s problem-causing death. Either they were trying to curry favor with him while he lived and secure control of the corporate structure after his eventual parting, or they were setting out to act in ways they thought Logan would approve of after his death rattle. Even with nominal control of the corporation as the deal was pending with GoJo, they could not act as Logan did, which was brutally and unapologetically decisive. Ken, Shiv and Roman were full of destructive ambivalence that prevented the trio from acting as a unified team of legacy owners or as individual agents able to devise strategy, implement plans, effectively see situations clearly, for what they were and not as they wished they were. I have a fondness for watching talented actors portray well-developed jerks, and I genuinely appreciated how skillfully the writers and show runners crafted a world of wealth, power, and outrageous privilege, populated by self-obsessed characters oblivious to the realities of everyday life. The exploration of themes such as generational cycles of abuse and the pervasive grip of collective narcissism was striking, particularly in the intensely articulated squabbles between the siblings and the peripheral characters. It became evident that they were attributing their problems to a world that they believed existed solely to cater to their corrosive whims and caprices.

What struck me as remarkable was the fact that none of the main characters ever walked the streets of the cities they inhabited, nor did they drive cars. Instead, they flew to different cities and countries on private jets, were chauffeured in tinted limousines to hotels, residences, or corporate offices, all while remaining completely detached from the local population. The way they treated each other was abhorrent, obscene, rude, brutal, and at times even psychotic. It was uncomfortable to witness, yet undeniably presented in a splendid and occasionally brilliant manner, revealing the depths of their pettiness and vanity and showcasing their irredeemable nature. In a very contemporary sense, this series can be considered a tragedy. It lacks a hero with a fatal flaw or a central character who possesses good intentions for the world but believes themselves to be the sole savior of the universe. Instead, it is saturated with excessive and toxic pride, embodied by a group of deluded and inept individuals. The presence of hubris is an essential aspect of the tragedy genre, and it becomes evident that the Universe, in some way, senses the disruption caused by the hubris and acts to restore balance. This often leads to a tragic end for the protagonist, who meets their fate through circumstances they have themselves created.