After just two episodes, HBO has ordered season 2 of its newest series, Succession. The dysfunctional family drama/dark comedy from Jesse Armstrong premiered at the beginning of June to mostly positive reviews from those who enjoyed the show’s acidic view of wealth and power from inside the fictional (but totally Murdoch-ian) Roy family, as questions arise as to who will take its media conglomerate Wyastar-Royco into the future when the health of family patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) begins to decline.
The series’ first two episodes have been largely claustrophobic affairs, with the first one taking place primarily in Logan’s luxurious but arguably antiquated New York home, and the second unfolding almost entirely in a hospital after Logan was beset by a brain hemorrhage. Though that hasn’t afforded the series a chance to be as gleefully exorbitant in its displays of wealth as, say, Billions, it has presented a compelling look into the strange, transactional family dynamic of the Roy children, which includes Jeremey Strong (Kendall), Kieran Culkin (Roman), Sarah Snook (Siobhan “Shiv”), and Alan Ruck (Connor). And, more importantly, it’s also introduced the audience to the show’s two funniest characters, Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun, as Tom, Shiv’s boyfriend and cousin Greg, respectively.
When a show titles its second episode ’S**t Show at the F**k Factory’ you get a better idea of the caustic tone it’s going for, and Succession has, if nothing else, proven its caustic bona fides in just two episodes. The rest of the season will see how the family responds to the crisis of Logan’s health scare, as well as why the Roy children are all so desperate for their father’s approval, even though he routinely demonstrates he’s not really the kind of man who believes in such obvious displays of fatherly acceptance.
While that positions the series in a fairly dark place on the spectrum of cable television shows, Succession still makes room for different shades of drama and comedy. Hailing from In the Loop and Veep writer Jesse Armstrong, the rhythm of series’ dialogue bears many similarities to both, though without having as many punchlines. But for those who still get a kick out of Selina Meyer and who like to go back to watch a foul-mouthed Peter Capaldi go up against James Gandolfini, Succession is probably a show worth checking out.
Whatever Armstrong and his cast are doing, it sure seems to have pleased the powers that be at HBO. With the premium channel’s emphasis on big-budget genre shows like Game of Thrones and its recently announced spinoff, and the currently airing Westworld, it’s nice to see a show like Succession can still garner a second season renewal this early in its initial run.
Succession continues next Sunday with ‘Lifeboats’ @10pm on HBO.