Succession, on Amazon Prime, could probably be sold on the opening score alone. It is also from Jesse Armstrong, a creator of Peep Show and The Thick of It, and the humour is recognisable, though the shift in scale and ambition can hardly be exaggerated. Succession feels Shakespearian, set against the tumult and corruption of a Fox-esque news and entertainment conglomerate, with the tyrant Logan Roy at its centre, and at the centre of a family where the fight for his power and approval have become tragically entangled. The ageing patriarch is loath to name a successor; his son Kendall (Jeremy Strong) is the obvious choice, though he perhaps lacks the robust brutality of his father, and Kendall’s younger brother Roman (Kieran Culkin) is impulsive and facetious and apparently amoral. Their sister Shiv (Sarah Snook) keeps her distance as a political campaign manager. These characters form the core of the show’s larger rivalling ensemble, and the cast nears perfection, to the point where it seems futile to name stand-out performances.
Succession is both a complex family drama and a political one, dealing with issues of loyalty and legacy, but it is also uniquely hilarious for depicting human nature in all its ugliness and absurdity. The show is a master class in dialogue and shifting tonality, building slowly to an unbearable tension in the finale of Series One, which is as unpredictable as it is unsettling. In comparison to Series Two, I am told, it is only just the beginning.