Family intrigue makes 'Succession' an easy choice for binge-watching. But are these three seasons really worth the commitment?

Introducing: Tatler Takes, your weekend guide to movies you must watch—or not. Today, we're asking our Tatler friends about their personal takes on some of the world's most talked-about series. We ask whether they loved it or hate it; and whether we should add it to our own weekend lineups. 

This week, we're catching up with Jesse Armstrong's Succession. Starring Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong, Succession is a dramatic series that's been renewed for a fourth season last 2021. 

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Since its HBO premiere in 2018, Succession has gained a steady base of solid fans. The narrative revolves around four siblings all vying for prominence within the family's media conglomerate, Waystar RoyCo. 

So is it a yes or a no from our Tatler friends? Let's find out:

Anne Gauthier Das Neves

Tatler Asia
Above (Photo: @anne.r.gauthier / Instagram)

Did you enjoy the series? Please tell us why yes or no. 

I highly enjoyed this series and if you haven’t started watching you should give it a try! Many friends kept talking about it and for some reason, I just never felt that urge to check it out but they insisted and I’m glad they did. The first few episodes can seem slow and it took me a while to really get into it. But once I did it was hard not to binge-watch. It just kept getting better and better.

This family drama is not just about the excessive wealth but addresses abuse in power, trauma, unchecked capitalism and human void. In many ways, at its core, it’s a study of the thirst for power and domination. 

The mind games and distorted relationships within dynastic families are exposed in a raw and honest way. It reflects the reality of some wealthy families that seemingly seem so perfect to most people who are on the outside. It shines the light on the dark side of wealth yet this show is written by Jesse Armstrong so there’s comedy sprinkled into these really dark situations. With it being a dark satire about big business and controversial family issues, the characters are constantly throwing jabs at each other like a comedy roast. That’s what I love most about this show, it’s incredibly funny.

As an ensemble, they are all fantastic. The chemistry and banter they have with each other are on point. The cast of actors all stand out on their own as well especially when they deliver their witty one-liners. Each character has its own complexities and nuanced performances. Each one is necessary to the storyline. 

If yes, what was your favourite part and why?

I don’t want to give anything away but I especially loved season two. In this particular season, the series [continues to build] tension with each episode. Always finding new ways to top the last. It was so well crafted and the season two finale was even better than the season one finale. What’s interesting with this series is they build up one character that you root for and feel for and make you despise the others. And in just a few episodes, they are able to break the character you were rooting for and build up the one you despised. 

Even with the lack of morals, the savage insults and backstabbing between each other you can sometimes sympathize with the Roys’ plight, particularly the children. They may have power, riches and all that most people look for but they remain lost souls; children begging for attention and to be seen by their unloving parents. And no matter how terrible they can all be to each other sometimes there’s this camaraderie that comes out between them. 

What do you think needs to be improved?

If I had to choose one thing I did not particularly like it was the camera work. It can be a bit distracting. Some of the scenes are shot like the modern family comedy sitcom or like a documentary with handheld zoom shots. And that sometimes pulled me out of a very heated and interesting scene. I understand the creative choice of it though. The production value is particularly great. Succession is a superbly written, directed and acted masterpiece of TV theatre. A definite must-watch!

Mikko Santos

Tatler Asia
Above (Photo: Mikko Santos)

Did you enjoy the series? Please tell us why yes or no. 

Succession is great because of its ability to let every character shine. The past three seasons has given me a love-hate relationship with each one. There’ll be moments wherein you’ll be rooting for Kendal then the next season you’ll be hating his try-hard approach at challenging his father. One thing I really love though is how Logan Roy is always one step ahead of his spoiled entitled kids. 

The intro music is also quite catchy; really helps get you in the mood.

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Lauren Golangco

Tatler Asia
Above (Photo: @laurengolangco / Instagram)

Did you enjoy the series? Please tell us why yes or no. 

Did I enjoy the third season? Absolutely. Do I agree that it was the best season so far? Undecided. 

Favourably, the latest season underscored the tumultuous dynamic between the three four Roy siblings more than ever before. Like many viewers, I do think that the way they portray this tumultuous, power-driven yet somewhat tender relationship is among the best parts of the series. I’ve always appreciated the show-don’t-tell storytelling techniques Armstrong and the team utilise; they reveal so much about the family dynamic without flashbacks, nor do they have the characters narrate memories for the sake of the audience (at least, not too often). There is an underlying trauma that shadows each of their actions, and these come to the fore in such a realistic way.

However, I did find the plot to be much more scattered than the previous seasons, jumping between different locations and events from the shareholder’s meeting to Kendall’s birthday to the Future Freedom Summit to Caroline’s wedding. That said, it did stir a sort of unsettling feeling, which I imagine reflects the characters’ emotions as they all scrambled to come out on top after the events of the season two finale.

If yes, what was your favourite part and why?

I just rewatched the series from start to finish, and yes it was even better the second time. This, I suspect, is a common sentiment, but the way the writers lay the groundwork for (spoiler alert) Tom’s downright betrayal in the season finale was brilliant. It was the kind of jaw-dropping plot twist that also has you kicking yourself for not predicting it earlier.

I also think this season had both the most slap-your-knee-in-laughter moments and quotes throughout the series, which firmly asserts that Succession is in fact a comedy. During the shareholder meeting, a clip of Shiv proclaiming “We’ve always cared about women”, just for it to be cut off by Karl as he walks onstage, is the kind of understated humour that makes the show well-worth repeat viewings. The whole bagel vs bunny crisis is another example. At the same time, the more overt jokes in the season were louder than ever before: Connor’s “I like Connor Roy”, Greg’s beef with Greenpeace, and of course, Roman’s monumental slip-up right when he’s at his peak, are just a handful of events I can’t wait to relive on my third watch.

What do you think needs to be improved?

What I do miss about the earlier seasons is how high the tensions got even in mundane settings like the board room (season 1 episode 6) or the dining table (season 2 episode 5), which was comparably lacking in season three. But again, given how hectic the plot was that season, I see why they had to jump from place to place, scrambling to keep their heads above water. In light of the season finale, I don’t see this changing anytime soon. However, I am certain that the siblings’ relationships will be put under the brightest spotlight to date, promising a magnificent watch nonetheless. Plus, the show’s greatest love team, Tom and Greg, will surely have more screen time than ever. After all, you can’t make a Tomlette without breaking some Greggs.


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