‘Succession’: How Jesse Armstrong created the most dysfunctional family on television

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Brian Cox and Sarah Snook star as father and daughter Logan and Shiv Roy in season three of HBO’s “Succession.” Photo by Hunter Graeme/HBO.

The HBO series “Succession” follows the super rich and deeply dysfunctional Roy family, as the kids fight to win patriarch Logan Roy's favor and lock down a position of power in their company, Waystar Royco. The Roy empire includes theme parks, cruises, and a right-wing TV network undeniably modeled on Fox News. 

Brian Cox plays the wily and tenacious Logan Roy, who suffered a health scare at the outset of the series. That had his four grown children — played by Alan Ruck, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin — scrambling for control. 

Over two seasons, there have been plots, attempted coups, crosses, double crosses — and so many slashing exchanges that YouTube now offers several supercuts of Roy family insults. 

The action in season three picks up right where season two left off. Kendall Roy has just publicly accused his father Logan of covering up massive crimes within Waystar Royco. 

Father and son are once again at war, and as usual, the other Roy offspring are trying to figure out how to come out on top. Meanwhile obsequious son-in-law Tom and feckless cousin Greg, played by Matthew Macfayden and Nicholas Braun, continue their special frenemy relationship. 

“Succession” comes from Jesse Armstrong, who also co-created the long-running British comedy series “Peep Show” and co-wrote the political satire “In the Loop.”

Season three of “Succession” was supposed to premiere a year ago, but the pandemic halted production for many months. Armstrong says despite the delay, the cast was soon back in the zone when they finally reunited. 

“The masks came off, the shields came off, the pulse quickened, and I think we were back there,” Armstrong says. 

Armstrong tells KCRW how the road to “Succession” began with a script about an imagined Murdoch family dinner, and explains why he re-writes his scripts — full of lacerating insults — throughout the production process. 

He also shares what he thinks of that viral parody video of the “Succession” theme song. 

Credits

Guest:

Host:

Kim Masters

Producer:

Kaitlin Parker