4 out of 5 stars

Too much hype is a bad thing. It usually means that by the time you get to watch that specific movie or show, you’ve either become sick of hearing about it – or it fails to live up to expectations. Anyone with a passing interest in television (or whatever it’s now called) will have heard the hype about Succession, the HBO series that follows the trials and tribulations of the mega-rich Roy family. The internet was awash with Succession think articles, think pieces and memes  – and I was certain that the show could not possibly live up to this hype. I was wrong. The Jesse Armstrong-created show is a smart, witty and dark social satire that delivers a piercing critique of big business and generational wealth.

The Roy family are owners of Waystar RoyCo, a huge media conglomerate – think the Murdochs and News Corp. The children are continuously battling for control of the company from enemies without and within under the uncertain shadow of Logan Roy (Brian Cox), the patriarch of the family whose health has been on the decline. The children – Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin), Siobhan (Sarah Snook) and Connor (Alan Ruck) may have their father’s hunger for wealth, but they lack the single drive and focus as they bicker and argue over who will succeed him as the head of the company. 

Whip-smart dialogue that’s as biting as it is funny and textured character arcs put Sucession at the higher end of the television spectrum. It’s brilliantly realised and wonderfully drawn. You’ll hate every character but will be fascinated by their imperfections. Each performance is note-perfect, illustrating that good casting goes a very long way to helping a television show succeed. The old pro, Brian Cox is the obvious stand-out but everyone – from the main players to the supporting cast deliver excellent turns. The great writing and casting sit side by side with luscious production design and a wonderfully evocative score from composer Nicholas Britell to deliver a show that feels as rich as the world it’s portraying. 

It’s twisty and turny and it often teeters on the verge of soap opera, but Succession walks a fine line and manages to deliver engaging entertainment that surprises and also shocks. You may have heard the hype and decided to give it a miss, but I highly recommend you change your mind and give Succession a go. 

Succession is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.