Opinion | On ‘Succession,’ Striving Is the Worst Insult of All
The Roy kids’s particular person ambitions are typically risible, however we’re by no means requested to query why they might be bold within the first place. We excuse the truth that they’re ruthless and conniving as a result of being ruthless and conniving is how folks get wealthy — by no means thoughts that the Roy kids bought wealthy just by being born.
What’s not acceptable, inside the ethical logic of the present, is the ambition of these characters who weren’t born into cash and energy however wish to obtain them. The dialogue is full of characters taking pictures — delicate and never so delicate — at each other, indicating a excessive diploma of consciousness about class signifiers and what they imply. A girl who exhibits as much as Logan Roy’s celebration carrying an oversize Burberry tote is mocked as a result of she introduced a “ludicrously capacious bag” to an occasion the place solely palm-size night baggage had been acceptable. The Pierces (who had been impressed partly by the Bancroft household, which bought The Wall Avenue Journal to Rupert Murdoch) affirm their class standing by pretending that any dialogue of cash is beneath them. The matriarch of the clan calls a multibillion-dollar bid for her household’s empire “disgusting” — crude, undignified, not what civilized folks discuss (although she doesn’t rule out entertaining a fair greater determine). “I’m telling you,” Kendall tells Shiv, in reference to the arriviste tech entrepreneur making an attempt to purchase their firm, “new cash — you’ve gotta maintain these recent payments to the sunshine.”
Nowhere, nonetheless, is the battle between the already wealthy and the up-and-coming extra obvious than within the relationship between Shiv and her husband, Tom Wambsgans. All through the sequence, the household, together with Shiv, regards him as an outsider. He doesn’t prefer it, however he places up with it, till the couple’s marriage — by no means the stuff of egalitarian goals — begins to disintegrate, and Tom and Shiv tackle the subject they’ve till now averted: He won’t ever be thought to be a real member of the household as a result of he desires to realize what she and her brothers had been merely born with. Energy and cash are tremendous in case you have them already. It’s wanting to accumulate them that’s the issue.
In an episode halfway by means of the ultimate season, Tom admits to Shiv that he cares about this stuff. The reality, he says, is that “all my life I’ve been pondering a little bit bit about cash, find out how to get cash, find out how to preserve cash.” He continues: “I like good issues. I do.” He tells her, “For those who suppose that’s shallow, why don’t you throw out your entire stuff for love? Throw out your necklaces and your jewels for a date at a three-star Italian. Yeah? Come and dwell with me in a trailer park. Yeah? Are you coming?” In a later, brutal argument, Shiv strikes at Tom’s most susceptible spot. “You’re a hick,” she says, “your entire household is striving and parochial.” Striving — that’s the most important insult of all of them.
In 2021 a New Yorker profile of the actor Jeremy Robust, who performs Kendall Roy, went viral, partly as a result of a Yale classmate of his derided him as having a “careerist drive.” In response, I wrote concerning the contempt that comfortably middle-class and rich folks usually have for individuals who attempt to rise above their station, particularly after they make it clear that they, too, are excited about cash and energy.