‘Succession’ Story

It has stepped into the pop culture spotlight via the HBO hit Succession, a hit job on the very rich and powerful produced by the very rich and much more powerful Adam McKay (The Big Short). McKay started off by doing a lot of cheesy comedies, made a large fortune, and then went after Wall Street types. Nothing wrong with that, films are supposed to go after the rich and powerful, and always have, but it’s the coverage of a TV series of a fictional family by the media that is slanted and totally false.

The media hints that mogul and patriarch Logan Roy is based on Rupert Murdoch, and that Roy’s dysfunctional family is that of Rupert’s. In reality the Roy bunch are freaks, drug addicts, and incapable of getting anything right. Unfortunately as far as envious hacks are concerned, the Murdoch brood is the direct opposite: attractive, active, and successful in their jobs and as far removed from the fictional Roys as it’s possible to be. Still, envious lefty hacks persist in hinting the freaks are based on the Aussie clan. Go figure, as they used to say in American Samoa.

The writer of the show is a Brit, Jesse Armstrong, and article after article praises him as a superior human being for getting the very rich right. Actually, Armstrong is a good salesman of pulp fiction and not much more. His knowledge of the very rich is probably based on cheap novels and gossip columns. I had never heard of him until now, and wonder who the richest person he’s ever met is. He says that he is keen to avoid writing “wealth porn” and glamorizing the Roys’ lifestyle, which sounds to me like a stripper lamenting she has to take her clothes off every night. Porn sells and wealth porn sells even more.

Basically, the Succession characters are cartoons, so when Sarah Snook (who plays the daughter) tells a hack that she now appreciates her far humbler background more keenly, it sounds like a PR agent has been coaching her a bit too much. Everything is a cliché on the series—the plot, the characters, and the actors off stage grumbling about their humble births. Having said that, I plan to watch every episode because it’s like reading a Mickey Spillane novel when in boarding school. Unputdownable. The swaggering villainy of the superrich gets everyone’s blood pressure reaching for the sky, except that in real life, the real superrich don’t swagger, don’t show off, and are as likely to resemble the freaks of the Roy clan as I am to transition to a woman.

Mind you, I understand that a TV series that shows poor people behaving as badly as the Roy clan will not exactly have sponsors elbowing each other to be first in line. Skewering the rich and powerful is safe as well as popular with the masses. There is a very simple explanation to this phenomenon, and it’s the following: Most people would like to be rich, hence watching people richer than themselves behaving badly makes them feel much better. I suppose it is human nature, nothing more serious than that.

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