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The ‘Succession’ Misery Index: Raking Up A Whole Lot Of Bullshit For No Profit

Succession/ HBO
Screenshot: HBO
Shiv Roy Misery Index: 98 (Yummy Dummy Divorcée)

Contrary to popular belief, Shiv does actually love Tom. The real issue with their marriage is that she doesn't know the first thing about what it means to love someone, because look at the fucking family she comes from. The only thing Shiv understands is control—the men in her family have had it, oftentimes over her, and she hates the idea of being the vulnerable one—so she settled, so she thought, for a cornfed midwestern boy with no ties to wealth that she believed would always need her. And being necessary and being worshipped is the kind of "love" Shiv can understand, regardless of whether it's actually fulfilling. So when Tom did what he did last season, it shook up the power balance of their relationship in a way that Shiv could never abide. There's a part of her attracted to it, but incapable of giving in. So it had to come to this: just two people, lying on a bed but world's apart, softly congratulating themselves on giving it a try.

The Roys all struggle with anything emotionally earnest, and Shiv especially can't handle tapping into "feelings." She acted like a total coward in that final scene, just totally unwilling to deal with her conflicting emotions and the betrayal she feels from her husband. If she can't get anything out of it, like the joy of spiting her father in a business deal, she doesn't see the value. It's weak and pathetic; a performative show of strength when she doesn't need to be strong.

Credit to Sarah Snook, who is so good at expressing the mania happening within the character. This is a person who is so desperate to escape any vulnerability that she'd rather throw away her husband than fight him, and she'd rather spend $10 billion on a decrepit news organization than go to therapy.

Tom Wambsgans Misery Index: 69 (Ha Ha)

Last season, Tom chose his career over his wife, and it was probably the right move. But it wasn't a move without consequences, and we saw those here in Episode 1 pretty clearly. At the onset, it's made clear that he and Shiv are on a trial separation, that he's made it into Logan's inner circle (the bottom of the top), and that he and Greg might be out here sleeping with models together as they call themselves the Disgusting Brothers. All this, and yet, my man misses his wife, or at the very least he wants to be able to have a real conversation with her about what happened, unburden himself of some things, and explain his choice properly.

For all of Tom's grand proclamations about being rich, he does not enjoy being in this world. Not in any authentic way. He's a kid from St. Paul, who wanted to make a lot of money, get married, have a picket fence in some shitty bland suburb, and maybe get 5-6 kids out of it. Instead, he's had to travail the weird politics of the wealthy elite, with their hateful monarchy-like families, and try to love a wife who sees marriage as a "boxset death march" (but is open to freezing her eggs, at least!). That's not to say he isn't power hungry, but it turns out he's a little more Bush-era conservative to the Trumpian circus he ended up in.

If there's one prevailing idea throughout much of the premiere's storylines, it's that everyone is battling an empty feeling in some way (except maybe Kendall, but his life is eternal emptiness), and Tom seems hollowed out even as he's moved up. My guy is basically living out a Future album right now, making boss moves and sad-fucking his way out of heartbreak. Poor Tom came from an actual loving family, and so he knows how spiritually bankrupt life can get without that love in it. No amount of power can make up for that.

Logan Roy Misery Index: 80 (The Meanest Birthday Boy)

Welcome to the Comedy Central Roast of Logan Roy: with your roast master Jeff Ross and the comedy stylings of Lisa Lampinelli and Anthony Jeselnik.

To borrow from a very infamous comedy roast: Logan Roy, I'm your conscious. I really miss my kids so much, they were dumb asses but at least they were entertaining. I wish i wasn't such a monster to everyone. Now I'm stuck with Shakespeare Frank and Greg's post-coitus hands. I'm your conscious, Logan Roy.

Logan Roy celebrates another birthday, mirroring the very first episode of the series, only this time most of his immediate family is gone and hates him. Marcia is gone. Kerry is still here and her deal is still uncertain. Connor is here but he's Connor. It's a sad state of affairs for Logan, who can't trust, and has no hope for the future of humanity. He's feeling his age, nothing tastes the way it used to, and, most unfortunately for the world, he is BORED. He wants some spice back in his life now that his kids aren't around to be fuckheads for his amusement.

Logan's fire-and-brimstone act about how much he wins has long been identifiable as pointless blustering. He conquered everything he set out to and has been circling the drain, looking for another business fix before media takes its last breath. As a character on a TV show, his arc is done—he came into the series with a finished arc—and has been searching for one more reason to exist, to matter, before the "nothing" that comes after this life. (Colin's dad has some thoughts). I mean, this guy is actively asking his advisors to roast him; that is man just flailing for purpose.

Connor Roy Misery Index: 100 (As In $100 Million Down The Drain)

Connor has been reduced to trying to relocate his wedding to beneath the Statue of Liberty, with "rappers, jetpacks, and bum fights" as a cheap ploy for free media attention so his polling doesn't fall below 1 percent. Anything I might add would just be overkill.

Greg Hirsch Misery Index: 2 (Rummaging To Fruition)

Oh, Greg! Oh, my sweet Greg! This day has been coming since you first galloped into the Roy home and got tackled by Colin. He's a walking, talking poster for avarice now, going from "guilt free switch ups" at the end of last season to putting notches on his belt with Wambsgans. That smarmy face of his all through this episode was absolutely sickening.

Roman Roy Misery Index: 50 (The Sensible Fucker Of Filth)

From the moment in Season 2 where he fucks up the PGM deal, Roman has done something that very rarely happens on this show: he's tried to change.

Thanks to starting back at the basics and being groomed by his mentor/object of lust, Gerri, Roman has discovered a way to make his naturally good instincts and ability to talk to any kind of weirdo work for him. He tends to get in his own way, due to his fucked-up obsessions, mean spirit, and disinterest in things that are good for the world, but beyond that he's actually savvy.

He was genuinely excited about The Hundred, and he instinctively knew that they were paying too much for an old newspaper, but Kendall and Shiv were lead on by their emotions. It's strange to say, but Roman might be becoming the most rational, clearheaded person left on this show.

Speaking of which, it's clear that Roman is not as committed to warring with his father as his siblings are; he loves his brother and sister, but you can sense that he still feels the pull of his father.

The Hundred Misery Index: 100 (Some Personal News)

Today marks my last week here at Defector. I will always cherish my time here, writing about movies and sports, with some of the best damn writers you could ever hope to work with. I'm excited about what comes next: I will be taking a position at the revolutionary new media venture The Hundred. It's Substack meets Masterclass meets The Economist meets The New Yorker and I am so excited to be part of the beginning of a bespoke new media brand that'll be here for years to come.

Honorable Mentions

Kendall Roy: Despite being a walking misery index, Ken is in as good a place as he'll ever be. So let's let the "fearless fighter of the good fight" have this one.

Kerry Castellabate: Still no clue about what the deal is there, but she is more or less Marcia's replacement, which has to be somewhat miserable.

Marcia Roy: Women be shoppin' in Milan forever.

Colin the security guy: *sipping coffee nervously* Uh, you have any more crime scenes you need me to clear your family's name from? I didn't take this job for philosophical conversation.

Willa Ferreya: It's just one campaign Michael, what could it cost? 100 million dollars?

Telly the banker: Going from working on a bullshit venture to making a huge financial windfall from a legacy media purchase. Sweet gig. Maybe I should've gone to Harvard business school.

Nan Pierce: Talk about playing your cards right. Cherry Jones you will always be famous.

Bridget: You'll always have the selfies, beloved.

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