The paragraph factory was closed up for a whole week, that no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year's. For a degenerate workaholic like myself, the downtime was grueling. Needed, sure, but to have it during both the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history and amid another tragic, senseless mass shooting, carried out by a Nazi was almost too much to bear.
Instead of running out into the thick of human suffering I stayed home and spent time with my family, like a normal human person. I baked, exchanged gifts, snuggled my doggies and took some time to binge-watch HBOMax and get caught up with the cultural zeitgeist. I know I am probably late to the party here, but have you guys seen Succession? It is an ensemble drama loosely based on the Murdoch family, kind of King Lear meets The Great Gatsby.
It takes you inside the world of the ultra-rich 1 percent, the people who live in ivory towers, pick presidents and exist in a world so far removed from the reality of the billions of working people that it might as well be another planet.
While it does a good job illustrating the moral failings of the ultra-rich, it also provides an interesting glimpse into the upper echelons of the media. Murdoch, er, Logan Roy owns a media empire of newspapers and cable TV networks, and is struggling to adapt to a world that gets most of its news from social media.
Not only does Succession show how media companies are bought and sold by monolithic corporate entities, but it also shows how they court neo-nazis for ratings, like Tucker Carlson stand-in Mark Ravenhead, and enmesh themselves in the political process. Though it lampoons the political right, it also highlights the hypocrisy of liberal elites with Bernie Sanders-coded character Gil Eavis and the Pierce family and their competing media empire.
Despite the social commentary, Succession is at its heart a show about dysfunctional family dynamics, with the siblings of an overbearing, manipulative patriarch competing for his affection and, to a greater extent, the throne of his media empire. It shows that while money can buy you a giant yacht, private jets, spacious and exotic homes, an army of domestic servants to attend to your every whim and an army of lawyers to ensure you will never face accountability for any wrongdoing, it can’t buy you happiness.
It’s not a feel-good show by any means, and none of the characters are particularly likable, although Kieran Culkin’s Roman Roy has a certain rakish, deranged, charm. If you want to watch a show that reinforces what a small cog in the grinding machine of capital you are, check out Succession. Like George Carlin said, “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”
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