8 TV shows to watch if you’re obsessed with Succession
Jesse Armstrong’s Succession is more than a Machiavellian struggle to take the throne at Waystar Royco, the multi-million dollar company owned by Logan Roy (Brian Cox). With its icy take on the eat-the-rich genre, comprising a cinematic tapestry of huddles in soulless offices spaces, endless traffic jams, and little to no joy, the HBO drama has garnered cult status for its dogged portrayal of family politics and dysfunctional relationships.
With the end of the fourth and final season closing in, The Independent has rounded up eight recommendations for soon-to-be bereft fans.
Read on for our top tips...
This show is effectively the corporate cousin of Skins and Euphoria. Lena Dunham’s cameo directorial role for episode one speaks to what viewers can expect from the investment banking drama charting the lives of a cluster of graduates (who have varying levels of morality). Complete with narcissistic personalities, a dog-eats-dog company culture, and uber wealthy players, Industry has more than just a hint of Succession. The fellow HBO series, starring Harper Stern (Myha’la Herrold) and Eric Tao (Ken Leung), has a tonal range that’s dark but vast, covering sexting and debauched dinner parties alongside nepotism, assault, and abuse of power.
Think Succession set in a very different universe: Croydon. There’s no plot starring a mammoth corporation, millionaire titans or a family patriarch, but what Peep Show lacks in glamour, it makes up for in its incessant smattering of astute and usually self-flagellating social commentary – all from the perspective of the two protagonists, Jeremy Usborne (Robert Webb) and Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell), whose internal monologues narrate the show. If you’re still not convinced, the nine-season comedy was co-created by Armstrong himself.
Elle Fanning is Catherine the Great in this fictionalised Russian comedy-drama epic, while Nicholas Hoult (Skins) stars opposite as Peter III. It’s a revisionist period piece with all the luxury trimmings of unelected 18th century leaders – complete with pet bear - but without the pomp and prudishness. Quite the opposite: the subversive retelling of how Catherine overthrew her husband to become Russia’s longest serving female leader is punctuated by dry comedic quips. “I look at you and I dry like sand”, the empress tells him. Outlandish and fun, The Great has all the damaged familial relationships, political wranglings and witty gems of Succession.
Gangs of London
Previously described by The Independent as a “blistering balletic mob drama”, this Sky Atlantic number puts the microscope on an effervescent power struggle between criminal families in an imagined gangland London. With performances from the likes of I May Destroy You’s Alex Dumani (Paapa Essiedu), it’s a kind of Peaky Blinders meets Succession. Far removed from the sluggish boardrooms of the latter, intricately choreographed fight scenes maintain a pulsing momentum after the death of the Wallace family patriarch, Finn (Colm Maney). A recently confirmed season three means there’s no better time to binge this one.
HBO again, this time with a comedic takedown of American politics. Veep is studded with flamboyant character assassinations, making this one perfect for fans of Roman Roy’s caustic tongue. Armstrong’s influence is apparent again – the show’s creator Armando Iannucci previously worked with the Succession architect on another political satire, The Thick of It, set across the pond in Downing Street. Veep follows fictional vice president Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as she navigates – and comes to perpetuate – bureaucracy, hollow promises, white feminism and downright cruelty. A portrait of politics if ever there was one.
Closer in plot to Armstrong’s tour de force than any of the above, Empire follows three sons battling for the role of successor to the multi-million dollar empire run by their father Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard). Though it lacks the skilful touch of Succession, which has become renowned for skilfully skewering audience expectations, this show has all the trappings of an easy watch dynasty drama. Occupying the confluence of raw capitalism and desire, the Fox production isn’t scared of cliché, but musical curation à la Timbaland (the musical director) and appearances from Courtney Love keep it fun.
In stark contrast to the clinical coolness of Succession is the Wolf of Wall Street-esque ostentatiousness of Billions. While the quest for power in the echelons of the uber wealthy is fodder for both dramas, Billions is smothered in the material consequences of wealth, where Succession’s social commentary manifests in a more pared back aesthetic. Following the pursuit of shady hedge-fund investor and antihero Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) by shifty district attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), it also doubles up as an exhibition of alpha male bravado in corporate finance.
With the starring role of judge Michael Desiato going to Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, Your Honour is a similarly protagonist driven epic. Bloated with the variously willing and unwilling intersections of New York’s crime families and those in governmental office, this HBO number is a heavier watch than Succession, with an additional dash of corruption. Hinged on an event that ties Desiato and his son to the crime world in unforeseeable ways, Your Honour is gripping – but to avoid too much vicarious trauma, best not to binge it.