15 October 2019 07:48

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You Should Really Be Watching HBO's Succession

With its television series Succession, HBO has given the world the change-of-generations corporate drama it never knew it needed. Logan Roy, the ageing founder and chief executive of Waystar Royco, a media and entertainment conglomerate, is thinking of stepping down. Will it be Kendall, who is not quite the high-functioning sociopath he would like to think he is? It's not a favour to kids to have them have huge sums of wealth. A 2018 Harvard Business School study of more than 4,000 millionaires showed that "controlling for total wealth, millionaires who have earned their wealth are moderately happier than those who inherited it".

More recently, Lane Fury, a woman in her twenties who has begun to inherit significant sums and eventually stands to inherit $6m, told the New York Post: "There is this sense of shame or embarrassment, like maybe some of the problems in the world are my fault." In his book Inherited Wealth, John Levy identifies how some of those who are bequeathed a large sum are afflicted. These include a lack of self-esteem, guilt (from not having earned it), delayed maturity (from not having to overcome life challenges), paralysis (brought on by not knowing what to do with it) and boredom, which can lead to the type of self-destructive behaviour we see with Roman in Succession. Inheriting a large sum of money can free your descendants from the shackles of everyday work and give them the choice to do what they want with their lives. Wealthy families can set up family foundations with some of the wealth, to provide a sense of shared purpose. The head of philanthropy at UBS, the Swiss bank with a big wealth management business, told me that one family gave its teens a $10,000 budget and asked them to make presentations on how best to spend it.

Even so, it does not always work out — there are plenty of tabloid tales about scions of rich families who have gone off the rails. It looked at 2,500 families over several decades and suggests inherited wealth rarely endures. By the second generation, it found, 70 per cent of family fortunes had been depleted. So perhaps Logan Roy should give his fractious offspring a couple of million each, sell the company and leave his fortune to a cat charity. There's no formal ceremony, no single agreed-upon source announces the ascendance of a new monarch to the throne of the internet zeitgeist, and yet the current holder of the title is always exceedingly easy to spot.

Because Succession is not just the reigning and undisputed The Show of late 2019, its cataclysmic Season 2 finale--which just aired Sunday--may have just cemented it into the pantheon of all time great HBO dramas, full stop. It really is that good.How are we so sure Succession has adopted this mantle, formerly held by the likes of Arrested Development, Breaking Bad and, most recently, Game of Thrones? But Succession is one of those TV shows that works on so many levels that it's hard to know where to begin to extoll its virtues.Let's start with the theme song, which is equal parts symphony piece and drum n' bass banger. It slaps so hard I don't fast forward through it every week like I do literally every other television theme song. His love for his children is endearingly genuine but Cox never lets us forget how terrifyingly cruel and indifferent Logan can be, even to his family.Jeremy Strong plays Kendall Roy as an ambitious, cutthroat heir apparent who, beneath his ruthless competence and bravado, seems constantly to be teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

Roman Roy, played by Kieran Culkin, is the youngest of the Roy children, terminally cynical but just as desperate for his father's approval as any of his siblings. And finally there is Alan Ruck's Connor Roy, the most straightforward caricature of real-life billionaire idiocy in the world of Succession whose half-hearted libertarian campaign for president is as unsettling as it is darkly funny.All this to say nothing of the bizarrely adorable mentor/protege relationship between Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) and Greg (Nicholaus Braun) who are somehow both the show's comic relief and at the very epicenter of the drama that drives Succession.As compelling and nuanced as each of these performances are individually, the real magic of the show is watching these characters careen around the world colliding and bouncing off each other, backstabbing and scheming and jockeying for position against a backdrop of (literally) ludicrous wealth and privilege. I won't get into spoiler-y specifics, but I will say that the plot of Succession somehow manages to be Shakespearean while also capturing the details of our current American moment with what can sometimes be startling clarity.Yes, the Roys and their hangers-on are terrible, unscrupulous, and ridiculous people but they are also deeply human. Succession is unbearably tense and it is some of the most fun you'll have watching anything on TV. Eric Sams is IGN's social media manager and resident Succession stan. The second season of Succession is one of those extraordinarily rare series in which absolutely everything is working in tandem. The second season finale aired last night and its 74 minutes, which flew by, proved why Jesse Armstrong's biting, insightful and entertaining TV show is the most exciting drama all year. The series set in the world of the modern-day uber-rich is a mix of social satire, Shakespearean tragedy and razor-sharp comedy. If you're not already watching Succession, you need to start right now. The whole first two seasons can be binged now on Foxtel/Foxtel Now and, from today, through iTunes, Google Play or any digital purchase platform. When Succession first dropped last year, it was the story of the Roy family, a media dynasty headed by patriarch Logan (Brian Cox). The tension of the story is in the title, with Logan's four adult children - Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck) - angling for position. That question of how to pass the reigns onto the next generation has played out in the media for decades, and Shakespeare certainly captured it in something like King Lear. And as much as Succession was first this indulgent drama that let audiences watch the obscenely wealthy destroy and emotionally torture each other, albeit in the prestigious package an HBO series provides, the show has slowly and subtly morphed into a family drama with incredible weight. Succession is right up there with the likes of Mad Men, The Sopranos, The Wire or Six Feet Under. Every single character in Succession, from the core Roys to all their hangers-on employees or partners are so vividly drawn - they're vulnerable, insecure, pandering, confused, ambitious, snivelling, hateful and arrogant. But no one person is the same kind of bitter or contemptuous - the writing and the performances are so good that there's not one named character that feels half-baked or indistinct. While it's hard to favour one character arc or performance over the others, special mention goes out to Strong's Kendall Roy. Kendall starts off the series as the heir presumptive of his father's empire and he's spent the past 20 episodes on a journey with oscillating between crevasse-like lows and moments close to, but not really, joy. Last night's finale provides an outstanding pay-off for the audience who has followed Kendall's arc. Strong's is the most compelling performance on TV right now. RELATED: Succession season two review Succession seasons one and two is available to stream on Foxtel/Foxtel Now or for digital purchase on iTunes, Google Play and other like platforms. I can't stop thinking about Succession—or chatting with pretty much anyone who will listen to all of the reasons why the HBO series has me utterly captivated. Based around the Roy family and their global media conglomerate, Waystar Royco, the show centers on the power struggles that ensue as patriarch Logan Roy decides who will take over the empire once he steps down. So yes, there is plenty of drama and it's just as easy to be repulsed and enamored by the morally deficient characters. In season 2, Shiv Roy—the only daughter of Logan Roy—really comes into focus. Not only is she a serious contender to take over the family empire, but she also arrives with a brand new look, which is a big departure from the previous season. Much of this change goes hand-in-hand with Shiv's new attitude about possibly entering the family business. Ahead, read about the key styling tricks I learned from Shiv Roy on Succession.