A Show About Rich, White People? No Thanks

The television landscape is filled to the brim with shows starring and centering white people. Diversity and inclusion is something I actively seek when choosing my next television show to watch, because I want to watch something that reflects the world we live in. Which is why when I kept seeing people say how good the HBO show Succession is, I vehemently kept on saying, why would I want to watch a show about rich, white people? No thanks. Rich, white people already bore and anger me in reality, so I had no need to watch a show about them. But I kept on hearing about it and how good it was, and it seemed to be getting nominated at every award show. However, I couldn’t exactly trust award shows—they’ve been known to be biased in their nominations and declared winners.

Succession is a show created by Jesse Armstrong, and may or may not be based on the notorious media tycoons, the Murdoch family. They own such outlets as Fox News, New York Post, and UK’s The Times and The Sun. Which is another reason why I didn’t want to watch the show, because not only was the show about rich, white people, but it was based off a family whose companies spread misinformation and are wildly ignorant or bigoted about so many issues. And I wasn’t sure if this was a show that would hold characters like that accountable, or make any proper commentary on it.

Yet, there came a time where I had heard from so many people, whether it was people I knew, or just people talking about it on the internet, that this show was a must watch, that my determination to not watch Succession was withered down. I was like, okay, if these people I know and love are obsessed with this show, it must not be that bad, right? So, one night I sat down in front of my tv, went onto HBO, and pressed play. And wow, had I been completely wrong about this show. I was immediately engrossed in the absolutely outrageous characters and their relationships with each other, the things happening around them, and the world. Jesse Armstrong created the best satire on the rich and powerful, and although it’s categorized as a drama at the award shows, I found myself laughing in so many instances, probably because I was watching this as someone who grew up very not rich. Honestly, if you’re someone who is rich watching this show, you most certainly don’t understand it at the level as someone who didn’t have money growing up, or presently. The foundation of this show is definitely the class divide and how out of touch from reality a lot of these mega rich, privileged people are.

I’ve also been exposed to the world of the rich through past work, and so there were things I saw on the show that I could connect to real life people. For example, there is an episode where Connor is throwing that big fancy dinner, and he gets so upset that the butter is cold that he goes in the kitchen and throws a fit, firing everyone. He claims the whole night is a disaster because of that small detail and that all of these trained chefs are incompetent at their jobs. Then, after the event is over, and everyone comes up to him saying how amazing it was, he goes back in the kitchen to congratulate everyone on a job well done. That specific scene reminded me of someone I knew, and I was doubling over with laughter at the resemblance. People like Connor exist in real life and it’s both baffling and concerning.

With that scene and many others, the show does an impeccable job at displaying how rich people act towards working class people, service people, or basically anyone who isn’t at their “level.” Succession also doesn’t refrain from showing the truth about how when someone in the family does something bad or consequential, it’s covered up and that person is able to continue living their glamorous life with no accountability. Of course, these characters have their issues (I’m looking at Kendall and Roman in particular), and somehow along the way, we find ourselves empathizing with them, even if we know in reality, they would not give two fucks about us. The writing on this show is that good, that we find ourselves liking these people and rooting for some of them. We are so involved in the family drama that we take sides and feel as equally betrayed by the actions of some of them as the characters who were betrayed. The relationships, whether it’s between siblings Kendall, Roman, Shiv, and Connor, or them and their father Logan, or Roman with Gerri, or Greg with Tom, or Tom with Shiv, and so on and so forth, are so intricate and detailed, and only made better by the incredible performances of the actors behind these characters.

Succession is returning this spring for season four, and with the explosive way season three ended, I am beyond excited to see what is going to happen, especially after the teaser that was released in October. Look at me, going from refusing to watch this show to being enthusiastic about its return. I never thought I would love a show about rich, white people, but Succession is now the sole exception. It goes to show that just like one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a show by its logline. So, if you are like I used to be, I understand. But, just like so many others had said to me, I will say this to you–Succession is very much worth it.

Isabel Maina

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