For all of its laugh out loud moments (and there are loads of them), critical acclaim, and award accolades — including topping the 2022 Emmy nominations tally with 25 nods, among them best drama series, and a record breaking 14 nominations in the acting categories — I sometimes feel a little dirty after watching Succession.
The show could easily have been dubbed “terrible people doing wickedly funny things over and over again and never learning a single thing from any of their mistakes.” Nevertheless, it’s hard to look away from this dark (oh so dark) comedy about a highly dysfunctional dynasty in the media world of power, politics, and especially money.
Toxic, powerful families have always been the stuff that great dramas are made of, and the high stakes power struggles between parent and child and the ever changing sibling alliances create a sumptuous stage for all kinds of crazy hijinks this third season. One of the best things this time around is how many characters we get to see showcased. Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin), Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), Gerri Kellman (J. Smith Cameron), Conner Roy (Alan Ruck), and Logan Roy (Brian Cox) all have their great moments and a significant amount of screen time. But my favorite scenes usually involved Matthew Macfadyen as Tom Wambsgans, an executive in the company and the husband of Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook, as the only daughter in the Roy kingdom).
Tom is family — but second string family, by marriage not blood — so he’s got the perfect insider-outsider perspective and insecurities, and unlike the Roys, who seem doomed by privilege from the outset, Tom often feels like he could go either way, depending on which angel or devil tugged his ear that morning. Spending three seasons watching him be neutered by his wife and her abusive family, only to turn the tables and berate his sometime second banana Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) is a great example of how deftly creator Jesse Armstrong has managed to bring to life characters we can’t help but love — and hate.
The season three finale — Tom’s double cross of his wife and her siblings’ efforts to finally take their father down — is a masterclass in plotting and layering of details by both the writers and the actors.
I might need to keep the soap and water handy, but I can’t wait for season four!