The ‘Succession’ Misery Index: Season Preview
4:55 PM EDT on March 23, 2023
Succession returns for a fourth and final season this Sunday on HBO. The dark comic soap opera about the worst family you've ever met and their billions of dollars is coming to an end at just the right moment, before the internet finds something shinier to ogle over. As happy as I am to see a television show go out before it gets stale, I will miss the Roys and their backstabbing, conniving, narcissistic ways (where else will me and my fellow media stalwarts milk blog posts from?). But all things come to an end, and while other people and publications might be busy wondering which character will "win" the show, like it's the fucking Eastern Conference Finals, the real question to me is a simpler one: Just how miserable is everyone going to be by the end of this thing?
Succession is, above all, a show about people who have nothing to live for. Not really. Money means nothing to them, and the pursuit of power and status, undertaken to fill the emptiness inside, has only made them more miserable and traumatized, which, to be clear, is hilarious. So welcome to the Succession Misery Index, where we take stock of how miserable every character is from episode to episode in Season 4. What better way to talk about a show obsessed with the power games of corporate media ownership (can't relate though)? Let's have some fun and remember that it's all just a game.
Logan Roy Misery Index: 2 (Ozymandias Shit)
Sure, Logan Roy declared himself a winner at season's end, but he declares himself a winner a lot, regardless of whether he's won anything of value. At the end of Season 3, we see him decide to sell off his life's work (his empire of shit really) to the Elon-Musk-meets-Mark-Zuckerberg tech asshole of the future. Look, getting billions of dollars for anything is obviously a pretty sweet deal, but as Kendall helpfully pointed out in that brutal masterstroke of a finale scene, he's just gonna "put it in a pile with his other bil'."
One of the best things about Succession is the way it depicts what it's like to live beyond money, in a place where money is so plentiful that it becomes useless, as opposed to more abstract things like power, position, domination, and, yes, even love. Logan is essentially giving all those other things up for the thing he already has too much of and, while this is probably the best deal at the best time for an old media org in a failing industry, it's hard to believe this season won't be filled with a lot of second-guessing and seller's remorse. This is a guy who loves being a crabby asshole; he can only stomach the twilight for so long. But for now, Logan is as close to feeling good as a Roy possibly can be.
The Roy Kids' Misery Index: 1,000 (Sinking Faster Than The Titanic)
These kids are in bad fucking shape, but at least they're united at last. The Roy kids' biggest problem is that they actually believe that they're the main characters of life. They can't see themselves for what they are: Children simply being indulged by their father and his company for his shits and giggles. They mistake themselves for serious power players that have "earned" the top job, but they've barely earned the shoes they wear, if that.
What made the Season 3 finale so exhilarating is, for all the trauma and pain it inflicted on these characters, they never once stopped deserving it. It wasn't but a few hours ago in show-time that Kendall was confessing to manslaughter to his siblings and, after fake consoling him for a couple minutes, they're right back on the wheel trying to play corporate musical chairs with their father. These people deserve counseling, maybe even lengthy prison sentences—they might even deserve better parents—but they certainly don't deserve to run a company of any kind.
Will Shiv end her marriage? Will Roman come crawling back for daddy's approval? Will Kendall shit the bed, again (figuratively, but also literally)? The kids' Q-rating is the lowest it's ever been but, on the bright side, it's nice that they want to fail together for once.
Tom Wambsgans And Greg Hirsch Misery Index: 1 (The Treacherous Twosome)
The starry-eyed Midwestern boy who came to the big city and moseyed on up into the upper echelons of a powerful family has had it rough. He volunteered himself to be the sacrificial lamb in case the feds came calling after Kendall's revelations, and he spent much of Season 3 preparing and dreading his impending judgment day, much to the annoyance of his wife, Shiv. The fact that he didn't end up going to prison (totally exonerated, no wrongdoing) didn't improve things for him, instead it only further highlighting the emotional gulf between the couple. So Tom deciding to choose himself in the end is beautiful to see. Instead of going along with the Roy kids' plans for a hostile takeover, he tips off Logan about their plans, which gives him time to put the kibosh on their power moves.
And as for Greg, you Machiavellian fuck, his true skill is being at the right place at the right time: Whether it's knowing when to get off Kendall's sinking ship, or being beside Tom as he makes his "deal with the devil." Him and Tom are together here because they're failing upwards as a team, just as the founding fathers intended for all white men. He just might win that lawsuit against Greenpeace.
Connor Roy Misery Index: 26 (Boneless Donald Trump)
His father doesn't rate him, his siblings seem to forget he exists at times, and he's almost assuredly going to burn whatever money he makes from the sale on a presidential campaign that'll go nowhere. But at least he has worn down the woman he loves into accepting his marriage proposal with a hesitant and begrudging "fuck it." Everything comes out alright for Connor in the end when you think about it.
Willa Ferreyra Misery Index: 42 (Crying For Help)
There's about a 65 percent chance she just pulls a runaway bride scenario with this whole wedding bit. But listen, that play's gotta get funded somehow.
Lukas Mattson Misery Index: 1 (Going Nut Nut!)
Man is flying high. He just destroyed a family legacy because he could. He's a tech billionaire and professional troll that gets to look like Alexander Skarsgård. That said, he also just purchased a decrepit media empire. It's a win but it's not THAT big of a win. It'll be interesting to see how he chop-shops the company and what (and who) stays with the new management. It'll also be fun to see him fucking around with these siblings post-sale. Either way, he's doing just fine.
Gerri Kellman Misery Index: 19 (Born Survivor)
I have to assume it hurt a little bit to stick the knife into Roman like that in the end, and this sale will almost certainly put her career at some sort of risk. But for the time being, Gerri, Frank, and Karl are the roaches of the Waystar nuclear blast and they will keep on chugging along in the end. Especially Gerri, the Tony Yayo of the company.
Lady Caroline Collingwood Misery Index: 12 (Mother of The Year)
Yes, she betrayed her only children, but she got a sweet summer palace out of it and a little clout for her smarmy, extremely Britishly named new husband. Plus, she seems to genuinely believe that she's doing these kids a favor icing them out.
Kerry: No clue what her deal is, but she's moving on up fast.
Stewy Hosseini: Miserably tied to the anchor known as Sandy Furness.
Sandy and Sandi Furness: [listening as Sandy whispers into my ear] We're down bad, it seems.
Karl and Frank: These two were born miserable.
The Contessa: If the choice is between Greg or Roman, I guess she lucked out.
Jess: Miserable job, but at least you've won my heart.
Jeryd Mencken: Still reading H, preparing to make the world hate themselves.
Comfrey: If you know this person as anything other than "that one girl from Succession" you're too online and that sounds like hell.
Colin the bodyguard: He might help Logan murder someone before this show ends.
That's all for now, until next week. Happy Succession premiere day to all who celebrate. And to those who don't, get your "can't believe you all care so much about this show" and "overrated" comments out of your system now.