Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

The urge to be seen and recognized

Aleksander Huser
Aleksander Huser
Huser is a regular film critic in Ny Tid.
Regissør: Jesse Armstrong

FICTION / The controversy in the media mogul family over the corporate throne escalates further in the HBO series Succession, which in an impressive and captivating way is able to take the pulse of the present and big capitalist business at its most brutal.


It took me a few episodes to get properly into the HBO series Succession , since the whole character gallery is so strikingly unsympathetic. But gradually this became part of the fascination itself.

Succession is admittedly no solitary swallow in that sense. In the so-called new golden age of TV drama, which largely started with HBO's The Sopranos (though Six Feet Under and Sex and Single Life from the same channel will also have their share of credit), several prominent series have almost competed to have them most unsympathetic and morally dubious main characters. Tony Soprano from The Sopranos has his appealing character traits, but can also be said to be a violent sociopath. Although Breaking Bad. 's protagonist Walter White is first portrayed as a conscientious and cancerous family father, this series develops into a portrait of a psychopath – while “charming asshole” is an apt description ofMad Men 's marketing genius and women's magnet Don Draper.

Also in terms of quality, Succession deserves to be compared with all these series. At the same time, one can draw thematic lines back to American soap operas such as Dallas , The dynasty and Falcon crest .

A vulgar royal house

Succession is about a fictional media mogul family in the United States, with all that entails of power struggles, intrigue and desire to take over the throne in the group. The question of succession becomes highly topical when the aging patriarch Logan Roy is hit by blows at the beginning of the series. However, he gets on the road to recovery fairly quickly, and with this, the potential heirs – four adult children, who to a greater or lesser extent are involved in the family business – are thrown into ever-sharpening knives and uncertainty about their own position.

The series is not a "poor little rich" story.

The series will be loosely inspired by the real-life Murdoch family, about which series creator Jesse Armstrong first wrote an unrealized feature film script. But he is also said to have looked to the media magnates William Randolph Hearst (who was the source of inspiration for Orson Welles' Citizen Kane ) and Robert Maxwell – as well as Britain's Queen Elisabeth. The latter is not as sought after as it probably sounds, as the series' Roy family in some way appears to be a kind of royal house in the Republic of the United States.

With their group Waystar RoyCo, they have enormous power and influence – not only because of the financial means the company possesses, but also through the media companies it owns. Since this is the world of America and big business, we are not talking about a refined and exalted form of royalty, but a vulgar, cynical and power-hungry financial nobility. Nevertheless, the family's control over the media image provides opportunities to influence public opinion with a force that means that not even the president – ​​in the series preferably referred to as the “raisin” – sits safely.

The pulse of the present

The current third season on HBO picks up the thread directly from the end of last season, where the perhaps not completely lost son Kendall Roy in practice declared war on the head of the family. As a result, internal family disputes are escalating several notches, in parallel with the group being threatened by acquisitions and a lack of new investors. Central to the action is also the scandal related to the company's cruise business, which is now under investigation, and which includes both abuse of women and gross exploitation of guest workers.

The internal family disputes are being scaled up several notches, in parallel with the group being threatened by acquisitions and a lack of new investors.

This story about a bunch of very privileged people is impressively able to take the pulse of the present. Here, everything from metoo themes to depictions of depressingly uncontrolled media power, while Kendall tries to surf a wave of sympathy on social media for his public dissident status – with the great danger of being disguised as both narcissistic and hypocritical. And if anyone were to think that the helpless eldest son Connor's ambition to run for president seems overly parodic, it's just a reminder of who actually held that position until recently. Succession is undeniably satirical, but by no means science fiction – and is perceived as far more relevant than, for example, the more sensationalist Norwegian series Exit.

The richness of nuance

Succession follows, as mentioned, some reasonably inedible characters, in which we still get an emotional commitment. This is not necessarily due to our need for insight into the lives of the rich and powerful, but whether the richness of nuance and complexity these characters are portrayed with. Succession is also a story about four people who have grown up with an extremely demanding and dominant father, and how it affects them. There is a significant amount of soreness in this, without it being meant to excuse what the characters get to do.

The series is not a "poor little rich" story, but a study of the urge to be seen and recognized. It shows a life where everyone exclusively grinds their own cake, and where manipulation and trampling are natural survival strategies. And then, of course, it's big business capitalism at its most brutal.

With its occasionally hesitant, but no less elegant balance between realism and biting satire, Succession is one of the smartest and most apt descriptions of recent years of how power is very much exercised in the world's leading democracy.

New episodes of Succession Season 3 are released weekly on HBO Max (The review is
based on seven episodes).

- self-advertisement -

Recent Comments:

Siste artikler

The art of moving

WITH HUMAN DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL: The Norwegian documentaries Ibelin and Ukjent landskap, both of which have made a strong international impression, tell moving stories about special individuals – but at the same time provide enriching perspectives on our social life. Both films give heartwarming portrayals of a person who is no longer alive, but who has left a strong imprint.

When Muslims, Jews and Christians lived side by side

ETHNICITY: Maimonides is considered one of the most important Jewish thinkers ever. In his time, the relationship between the Muslim, the Arab and the Jewish was mutually enriching. Rather than viewing the relationship between Jews and Arabs in a polarized way, Maimonides' example shows that their enmity is redundant and intellectually debilitating. The conflict is not about religion, because Judaism and Islam have far too many central similarities.

Afropessimism, Afrofuturism and Afropolitanism

AFRICA: Disruption opens up for the capitalists a new display of power and new income: People, society and nature are reduced to raw material. The author Achille Mbembe's horizon is always the widest possible – the cosmic, earth-historical and planetary. Africa, despite all harrowing problems, is being called forth as a vibrant world center that still has powers in reserve, a teeming wildlife and a wealth of cultures.

How we sense other people and the world

SUBJECTS: Hartmut Rosa points out that today's late modern people react to the flood of information without "developing a stable understanding of what is relevant, of direction and prioritization". But does the well-educated academic here become an ideologue with religion as a weapon against an increasingly purpose-rational world where the economy colonizes the social?

Respectful and lovingly humorous

DOCUMENTS: In well-composed black-and-white images, Øystein Mamen follows four men in Halden prison. All inmates have committed particularly serious crimes. He shows what recognition and charity can do to people.

'Put peace before victory'

MEMORIAL WORDS: Johan Galtung. Could the 21st century see the abolition of war – just as slavery was abolished in the 19th century and colonialism in the 20th?

"The Age of Transformation"

POWER: Is it possible to explain why the resurgence of free market ideas has resulted in persistent unemployment, rising inequality and financial crises? According to Philip Ther, the corona pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine have led to the end of an era – the world as imagined after 1989.

"The ABC of the Revolution"

RUSSIA: Mikhail Khodorkovsky discusses Russia's future after Putin and advocates revolution, democracy and fair distribution of resources. It is about achieving a new, open and fair country that can reclaim its place in the international community...

I was completely out of the world

Essay: The author Hanne Ramsdal tells here what it means to be put out of action – and come back again. A concussion leads, among other things, to the brain not being able to dampen impressions and emotions.

Silently disciplining research

PRIORITIES: Many who question the legitimacy of the US wars seem to be pressured by research and media institutions. An example here is the Institute for Peace Research (PRIO), which has had researchers who have historically been critical of any war of aggression – who have hardly belonged to the close friends of nuclear weapons.

Is Spain a terrorist state?

SPAIN: The country receives sharp international criticism for the police and the Civil Guard's extensive use of torture, which is never prosecuted. Regime rebels are imprisoned for trifles. European accusations and objections are ignored.

Is there any reason to rejoice over the coronary vaccine?

COVID-19: There is no real skepticism from the public sector about the coronary vaccine – vaccination is recommended, and the people are positive about the vaccine. But is the embrace of the vaccine based on an informed decision or a blind hope for a normal everyday life?

The military commanders wanted to annihilate the Soviet Union and China, but Kennedy stood in the way

Military: We focus on American Strategic Military Thinking (SAC) from 1950 to the present. Will the economic war be supplemented by a biological war?


Bjørnboe: In this essay, Jens Bjørneboe's eldest daughter reflects on a lesser – known psychological side of her father.

Arrested and put on smooth cell for Y block

Y-Block: Five protesters were led away yesterday, including Ellen de Vibe, former director of the Oslo Planning and Building Agency. At the same time, the Y interior ended up in containers.

A forgiven, refined and anointed basket boy

Pliers: The financial industry takes control of the Norwegian public.

Michael Moore's new film: Critical to alternative energy

EnvironmentFor many, green energy solutions are just a new way to make money, says director Jeff Gibbs.

The pandemic will create a new world order

Mike Davis: According to activist and historian Mike Davis, wild reservoirs, like bats, contain up to 400 types of coronavirus that are just waiting to spread to other animals and humans.

The shaman and the Norwegian engineer

cohesion: The expectation of a paradise free of modern progress became the opposite, but most of all, Newtopia is about two very different men who support and help each other when life is at its most brutal.

Skinless exposure

Anorexia: shameless uses Lene Marie Fossen's own tortured body as a canvas for grief, pain and longing in her series of self portraits – relevant both in the documentary self Portrait and in the exhibition Gatekeeper.