Why It's a Relief That Succession Is Ending After Season 4
The Roy family saga has been one stacked with rug-pulls and reversals, but there weren’t many of us expecting the one showrunner Jesse Armstrong dropped in an interview with the New Yorker today. The fourth season of Succession which begins airing in a month’s time will be the last.
“I got together with a few of my fellow writers before we started the writing of season four, in about November, December, 2021, and I sort of said, ‘Look, I think this maybe should be it. But what do you think?’” Armstrong said. “And we played out various scenarios: We could do a couple of short seasons, or two more seasons.
“Or we could go on for ages and turn the show into something rather different, and be a more rangy, freewheeling kind of fun show, where there would be good weeks and bad weeks. Or we could do something a bit more muscular and complete, and go out sort of strong. And that was definitely always my preference.”
A lot of fans have reacted with absolute horror. The vibe is, to paraphrase Gerri’s advice to Roman at the end of last season: “But ending Succession after four seasons doesn’t serve my interests. How does ending Succession after four seasons serve my interests?”
HBO’s Casey Bloys has said that he’s not mad for a spin-off, but Armstrong seems pretty interested. It feels, as Logan Roy once observed, about as choreographed as a dog getting fucked on rollerskates.
“I have caveated the end of the show, when I’ve talked to some of my collaborators, like: Maybe there’s another part of this world we could come back to, if there was an appetite? Maybe there’s something else that could be done, that harnessed what’s been good about the way we’ve worked on this.”
The door remains tantalizingly ajar there. The obvious choice to front up a spin-off is Greg – young, weirdly fit, internet’s boyfriend – having to satisfy a litany of bizarre demands to get hold of his Grandpa’s megamillions inheritance. I’d definitely watch anything about Gerri. I would march straight into hell behind Lady Caroline Collingwood.
Perhaps there’s mileage in an Industry-style office drama which brings together put-upon assistants Comfrey, Jess and Karolina. Or, perhaps, we might finally get to see that film Roman worked on, The Biggest Turkey in the World.
But let’s look at this with the gimlet-eyed rationalism of Vaulter-fucking era Kendall Roys, rather than being moist-eyed Romans running in to assassinate our dad only to realize his guns have turned to sausages.
Most great TV programs go on slightly too long. The arc goes: small amount of buzz; cult success; mainstream success; mainstream moaning; kind of still a big deal but it’s dropped off a bit; two seasons nobody really talks about; the end. What could have been a densely packed masterpiece becomes bloated and boring.
It’s more of an American problem than a British problem. Happy Valley did three series and stopped. Ditto Derry Girls and Stath Lets Flats.
We’re not immune, obviously. Killing Eve chased itself in circles, Peaky Blinders pushed its luck. Armstrong’s other masterpiece, Peep Show, ran out of steam somewhere around series six or seven before gathering itself up and ending on a high. But America, come on: how many years of The Simpsons, The Walking Dead, or Grey’s Anatomy can you ingest?
The point being, this might be Succession’s greatest legacy. More TV shows should cut themselves off slightly too soon, and do all the things they need to do in slightly less time than they reckon they can get away with.
There’s a financial imperative to keep gravy trains rolling, even if their broth gets noticeably thinner. I am not the only person I know who just gets NOW TV for the three months Succession is on.
And given how many shows get junked without so much as a season finale which heavily implies it’s all over while leaving the door open for another run, this is an appropriately ballsy power move.
Obviously the Emmy-gobbling critical darling Succession is in an entirely different league to, say, Warrior Nun. It had enough gas in the tank for at least two more seasons, if it had wanted them.
As Armstrong told the New Yorker, there was a little push to do a bit more from the channel. “HBO has been generous and would probably have done more seasons, and they have been nice about saying, ‘It’s your decision.’ That’s nice, but it’s also a responsibility in the end – it feels quite perverse to stop doing it.”
We’ll miss Succession. But it’s fitting that it’s leaving the party on its own terms. It’d be terribly sad to see it end up like Kendall, huddled in a metaphorical blanket at the end of a massive birthday party everyone stopped enjoying a long time ago.
From: Esquire UK