The best shows to watch after ‘Succession’
In an era when there are hundreds of TV series to choose from, Succession stands out. Its chronicling of a family at the top of a media empire is funny, tragic, and above all else, hugely entertaining. It features what may be the best ensemble cast on TV, and the dialogue is so specific and sharp that it feels like it’s in an entirely different class.
The biggest problem with Succession, though, is that there just isn’t enough of it. There have been 29 episodes over the course of three seasons, and there’s only a season or two left. Given that, plenty of people are likely looking for a show to fill the Roy-sized hole in their hearts. Thankfully, there are plenty of great options, all of which offer something a lot like Succession without simply becoming pale imitators.
Almost like the soapier, more coked-up cousin of Succession, Billions has the distinction of preceding its more classier relative. At the core of the show is a cat-and-mouse game between the world of finance and a district attorney who wants to make sure wealthy people who break the rules pay, and what makes Billions work is the way the allegiances of the main characters are constantly shifting. It’s got all the intrigue of Succession, but there’s a bit less character work and trauma to dig through.
On its surface, Severance may not seem like it has much in common with Succession, but Severance is almost like watching Succession from the point of view of an average employee at Waystar-Royco. You’re not privy to the secret meetings and the backroom deals, and what you’re left with is a vague feeling of misery. Severance tells the story of employees at a secretive company who agree to have their brains severed so that they don’t remember their home life at work and vice versa. The show is still in its first season, but it’s already established a style as distinctive and smart as the one that made Succession a success.
In addition to the fact that Brian Cox is on both shows, Deadwood also shares a love for vulgarity with Succession, and is fundamentally obsessed with the question of power. On Deadwood, that power is wielded by various businessmen and officials in a frontier South Dakota town. The settings may feel radically different, but they’re more similar than you might imagine. Deadwood is set in a cold world, but if anything, it may be a slightly warmer and more humane show than Succession turns out to be.
Listening to the pontifications of Don Draper, we get to see a true sociopath at work, a snake in a suit. Mad Men has trenchant things to say about patriarchy, living with your past, and being an artist in a world where good art often goes unappreciated. What most unites it with Succession, though, is the quality of its writing. Even when the characters on Mad Men are being terrible to one another, you always feel like you know and understand them, and that’s what makes the show so remarkable.
Industry is set in the same world as Succession, but its main characters don’t necessarily come from the same privilege as the Roy family. Telling the story of a group of young potential investment bankers who are competing for spots at a prestigious firm, Industry is about the blurred lines between colleagues, lovers, friends, and enemies. It’s a show as willing to break with the conventions of storytelling as Succession, and if you’re looking for a show where business deals get made at a record pace, you can do no better.
Succession and Veep feel like two shows that were separated in the womb. Ostensibly, Succession is a drama, but part of what makes it great is how willing it is to be uproariously funny. Veep, meanwhile, is a comedy draped in a thick layer of tragedy. Following a female vice president as she and everyone around her demonstrates total incompetence as they bungle their way into greater and greater power, Julia Louis-Dreyfus delivers an award-winning performance. Like Succession, Veep is a show about how you don’t have to be a genius to be powerful.
The Good Fight
The Good Fight is a spin-off of The Good Wife which follows Diane Lockhart as she joins a Black law firm in Chicago and reckons with the modern political landscape. The Good Fight can be just as funny and even more absurd than Succession, but never fails to entertain and bewilder us with its frank depiction of what it’s like for a woman trying to make a name for herself while doing the right thing and trying to convince others to do the same.
Although it takes place in a completely different environment than Succession, The Great highlights the same kind of absurd power struggle that is the fuel behind Succession‘s greatness. Set in 18th Century Russia, The Great chronicles the rise of Catherine the Great, but does so without any desire to be true to actual history. The result is an ahistorical romp filled with power struggles and dust-ups over remarkably silly incidents. It’s Succession, but with different clothes.
The blundering Bluths and the blunder Roys have more in common than either family would likely acknowledge, but both shows are really about children of privilege who slowly come to realize that they never learned how to be functional adults. Arrested Development is more overtly funny than Succession, but both shows share a certain dark outlook on the nature of capitalism and humanity. Succession and Arrested Development are also two of the best written and best cast shows in the history of TV, even if they take different approaches to the families at their center.
If you come to Succession for the mythical power structure and stories about family, then Yellowstone may be a good follow-up. Following John Dutton, the owner of the largest ranch in the contiguous U.S., as he deals with corrupt politicians, fellow businessmen, and his own family. There’s plenty of intrigue to go around on Yellowstone, and while it may not be as witty as Succession, the episode-to-episode plotting is often deeply compelling and it’s made Yellowstone one of the most popular shows on TV.