6 TV Shows to Watch When You’re Already Missing “Succession”
HBO’s critically-acclaimed drama series “Succession” just aired its season finale on Sunday. And in the epic saga of the uber-wealthy Roy family as they battle for control over their sprawling media empire, the latest season of “Succession” has cranked up the drama and tension to new heights.
With its top-notch cast and vicious writing, “Succession” doesn’t just lay a claim to being the best drama on television anymore: it’s arguably the funniest, too. Fingers crossed that Season 4 won’t arrive a year behind schedule like this last season did, but just in case, here are some similar shows to tide you over:
Showtime’s series “Billions” takes place in a similar milieu to “Succession”: the obscenely rich hoarding their wealth, like dragons sitting on mountains of gold. Their modern kingdoms are high-rise Manhattan office blocks, sprawling Hampton estates, and yachts on the Mediterranean. That said, money itself is mostly an afterthought in the world of “Succession,” an expensive backdrop for its Shakespearean family drama. “Billions,” by contrast, is much more invested in the nitty-gritty of becoming and remaining super-rich, with a detailed emphasis on financial workings (both legal and not) that will appeal to fans of “Boiler Room” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The world of “Billions” may revolve around enigmatic hedge fund manager Bobby Axlerod (Damian Lewis of “Homeland”), but its most compelling character might be his nemesis: U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades, played with a moody intensity by veteran character actor Paul Giamatti. “Billions” also gained widespread recognition in its second season with the addition of Asia Kate Dillon to the cast, making it the first television show in American history to include a non-binary character (or actor) as a series regular.
Available to watch on Showtime and Amazon Prime
If you’re interested in a youthful counterpoint to “Succession”’s top-down view from the corporate boardroom, try HBO and BBC2’s workplace drama “Industry” on for size. Set in the shark-infested waters of one of London’s largest investment firms, “Industry” follows a group of new hires driven to prove themselves at any cost. Life within the food chain of Pierpoint & Co. is strictly survival of the fittest, yet “Industry’s” cut-throat vision of corporate life is also oddly egalitarian in some ways: regardless of race, gender, class, sexuality, all of Pierpoint’s “graduates” face the same super-pressurized heat of the melting pot, sometimes with deadly consequences. “Industry” may not paint the most flattering portrait of 21st-century high finance, but it certainly is beautiful to watch.
Available to watch on HBO Max
Like “Succession,” the characters on “Mad Men” never quite tell the truth; not to the public, not to one another, and most of all, not to themselves. Every exchange of dialogue and small expression or cryptic action becomes a piece of the puzzle, helping viewers try to understand the advertising execs at Sterling Cooper Price, while the characters struggle to understand their place in rapidly changing 1960s America. The series was critically hailed during its five season run, but also took some criticism for a perceived slowness and lack of urgency in its plot lines (criticisms that have been leveled at “Succession” as well). It is true, “Mad Men” was never a show that relied on relentless plotting to propel it forward, but viewers who appreciate a more detailed, novelistic approach to pacing and character development owe it to themselves to give it a try.
Available to watch on Amazon Prime
Like “Mad Men” and “The Sopranos” before it, “Enlightened” is fascinated by characters trapped in patterns of self-destructive behavior, while posing difficult questions about what it takes to break those patterns. Laura Dern delivers a complex, career-highlight performance as Amy Jellicoe, a bipolar corporate executive trying to fix her personal and professional life in the wake of a humiliating office meltdown. Amy returns to work with an aggressively positive mindset, wrapped up in meditation and self-affirmations, but beneath her newly sunny exterior lies old ways that are patiently waiting to re-emerge.
In many ways, Amy’s journey parallels Kendall Roy’s arc in “Succession,” walking a fine line between personal growth and self-deception. “Enlightened” suffered low ratings throughout its two-season run, but it seemed to be ahead of its time with a focus on mental health, not to mention its proto-#MeToo and #TimesUp examinations of sexism and discrimination in the workplace.
Available to watch on HBOMax
I May Destroy You
One of the most provocative aspects of “Succession” is how issues of sexual misconduct, while not always depicted in the show itself, have shaped the series as the backlash over Waystar Royco’s attempted cover-ups continues to unfold. However, while the conversations over corporate and institutional responsibility remain vital, BBC and HBO’s unflinching drama “I May Destroy You” provides an important perspective: one of the abuse victims themselves.
Writer and star Michaela Coel draws on her personal experiences of rape to portray Arabella, a young writer unraveling the mystery of her own drugging and subsequent assault during a wild night out. Like Coel’s earlier work, the show’s dark subject matter is balanced by hilariously bleak laughs as well as a keen eye for characters and relationships. “I May Destroy You” was hailed not only for its visceral writing, but for its almost entirely Black British cast, winning everything from Emmys and BAFTAs to a GLAAD and NAACP Image Award in 2021.
Available to watch on HBOMax
In some ways, political comedy “Veep” feels like it could be a light-hearted sister show to its younger HBO sibling “Succession,” or perhaps even two shows set in the same world: a modern America uncomfortably close to real life, where money and politics hold hands in the corridors of power, with the names and faces changed just enough to avoid lawsuits. The cynical attitude and flowery f-bomb language shared by the shows may be because both spring from a British eye upon American society, as well as some shared creative history: Jesse Armstrong, creator of “Succession,” wrote the episode “Tears” from “Veep”’s first season and is credited for 15 out of 23 episodes of Armando Ianucci’s predecessor series “The Thick of It.” And since it’s also streaming on HBO Max, what’s to stop you from watching another satirical series on power in America?
Available to watch on HBO Max