Beautiful houses, private jets, the ear of the President of the United States… The Roy family seem to have everything anyone could possibly want but, as hit drama Succession repeatedly shows, being ridiculously rich doesn’t necessarily make your life any easier. Bad news for the Roys, however, is great news if you’re making a lavish TV drama.
Over three memorable seasons of Succession on HBO and HBO Max, series showrunner/creator Jesse Armstrong has transported us into the world of ruthless billionaire media mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his bickering children, each of them vying to take control of the family business after he’s gone – despite being spectacularly unqualified for the role in very different ways.
But after the brilliant season 3 finale left Roy offspring Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) Siobhan (Sarah Snook) and Connor (Alan Ruck) on the verge of losing everything, we’ve been on tenterhooks in anticipation for Succession season 4.
Luckily, the long wait for new episodes – hopefully coming in late 2022 or early 2023 – doesn’t have to be as torturous as a night at Kendall’s now-infamous 40th birthday party. We’ve assembled a list of seven shows like Succession – an eclectic mix of dramas and comedies – to tide you over until the Roys make their eagerly anticipated return.
Without The Sopranos, there would probably be no Succession. If that sounds like an overly bold statement, bear in mind that David Chase’s superlative gangster story not only established HBO as top dog in TV drama, it also helped usher in (cliché alert!) the golden age of TV that’s still with us more than two decades later.
Most of all, though, it’s a family saga of the highest order, mixing Scorsese-esque mobster drama with a deep dive into the psyche of a man struggling to balance (extremely illegal) business interests with his family life. While Tony Soprano’s killings are more literal than Logan Roy’s boardroom takedowns, however, he arguably has a healthier relationship with his kids than Succession’s all-powerful patriarch.
Where to watch: HBO Max (opens in new tab) (US); NowTV (opens in new tab) (UK)
The characters in Succession may have more money than god and access to the best tailors in existence, but even they can’t match the ageless style of Mad Men. Across seven seasons, creator/showrunner Matthew Weiner (a graduate of The Sopranos writer’s room) crafted one of the 21st century’s best (and best-looking) dramas, following the lives and loves of the staff at a high-flying ad firm in 1960s New York.
There was always substance behind the style, however, and the critically adored series launched the careers of Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones and Christina Hendricks.
Where to watch: IMDb TV (opens in new tab) (US); Prime Video (opens in new tab) (UK)
Mitchell Hurwitz’s innovative sitcom may go harder on the laughs and surreal situations than Succession, but there are still plenty of parallels between the two shows. Indeed, Arrested Development’s Bluth clan could give the Roys a run for their money when it comes to dysfunction, as the spoilt offspring of a disgraced businessman come to terms with their significantly reduced means.
In its first three glorious seasons – the subsequent Netflix revival is more hit-and-miss – the series proved that a comedy could be every bit as intricately plotted as a top HBO drama. And let’s face it, even the mighty Succession could be improved by Ron Howard’s magnificent narration – as this mash-up (opens in new tab) shows.
Where to watch: Netflix (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)(worldwide)
The Thick of It
The springboard for creator Armando Iannucci’s subsequent adventures in American politics via Veep, this BBC comedy was another early writing gig for Armstrong. Focusing on government incompetence and out-of-their-depth advisors, the show’s clever, satirical edge is underpinned by its ability to engineer excruciatingly awkward situations for its protagonists, alongside a love of language that manifests itself in some of the most spectacular put-downs ever heard an TV. Both are traditions Armstrong would continue in Succession.
But the real star of The Thick of It is Malcolm Tucker, a role in which a pre-Doctor Who Peter Capaldi turned swearing into an artform – the prime minister’s rottweiler even makes even Logan Roy look like a pussycat in comparison.
Where to watch: BritBox (opens in new tab) (US)/BritBox (opens in new tab) (UK)
One of the few criticisms you’ll hear thrown in Succession’s direction is that its characters are all so unpleasant that it’s impossible to find anyone to root for. That’s nonsense, of course. Terrible people doing terrible things is the series’ big selling point – just as it is in Noah Hawley’s superlative riff on the Coen brothers’ tale of murder skulduggery in the American Midwest.
With each of its four seasons telling a totally different story – albeit with loose narrative links between the distinct time periods – Fargo is a bloody, entertaining mix of twisty-turny plotting, memorably offbeat characters and some of the best dialogue on TV. It may not actually be “a true story” as the opening titles claim, but that doesn’t make it any less compelling.
Where to watch: Hulu (opens in new tab) (US)/Netflix (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)(UK)
Music has always been a big part of Succession, whether it’s Nicholas Britell’s genre-splicing theme music (one of the most memorable intros of the modern era) or Kendall Roy using Nirvana to troll his sister, Shiv, at a shareholder meeting. When it comes to soundtracks, however, even the HBO smash hit struggles to compete with Empire, which recruited uber-producer Timbaland to oversee the music.
Look beyond the tunes, however, and Lee Daniels and Danny Strong’s drama arguably shares more thematic DNA with Succession than any of the other shows on this list. Indeed, the central premise – Terence Howard’s hip-hop mogul has to decide which of his kids will take over the family business when he’s incapacitated by ill-health – is essentially a pitch for Succession.
Where to watch: Hulu (opens in new tab) (US)
If Succession is The Godfather, focusing on the family sitting on top of a powerful business empire, Industry is GoodFellas, the story of the footsoldiers making the higher-ups rich. Boasting a pilot episode directed by Girls creator Lena Dunham, this acclaimed BBC/HBO co-production follows five graduates starting work at a top London bank, finding themselves in a competitive, cutthroat world where working the traditional 9-to-5 simply isn’t an option.
With each of the new recruits coming from very different backgrounds, there’s plenty of social commentary, but wisely the show also makes sure to make sure each character exists in a shades-of-grey world, neither hero nor villain.
Where to watch: HBO Max (opens in new tab) (US); BBC iPlayer (opens in new tab) (UK)
- From Succession to Euphoria, these are the best shows on HBO Max... (opens in new tab)