There is no way you have not heard of Succession sometime in the past five years. With widespread critical acclaim for its script, cast, music, direction, and in-depth portrayal of subject matter, and established by several awards and nominations (BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Primetime Emmys; what more do you need?), Succession is one of the best series out there.
The show is in its fourth and final season (currently airing). It follows the Roy family, the owners of Waystar RoyCo, a global media and entertainment conglomerate, as they battle for prominence in the wake of their father’s death.
With a seemingly larger-than-life story and unreal incidents, imagining the series in actual life is very difficult. However, the series showrunner, Jesse Armstrong, has revealed that real-life personalities and events inspire the show. And now the pressing question is who all and how much?
The Murdochs have majorly inspired the Succession, and the show’s primary characters are based on the members of the Murdoch family. The Kennedys and other prominent celebrities and controversial events have also influenced the show.
Let’s go into detail!
1. Is Succession’s Logan Roy inspired by Rupert Murdoch?
Logan Roy is indeed based on the Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Logan, the head of the patriarchal media family, shares several characteristics with Rupert regarding position and health. Events from the latter’s life have also inspired events of the series.
Succession is majorly inspired by the Murdochs, so much so that the original script was titled ‘Murdoch .’Logan Roy of Succession is indeed Rupert Murdoch mirrored on-screen with failing health, successful media empires, and on the lookout for the perfect heir.
Rupert’s Fox News became Logan’s ATN Network, and while Rupert has six children to three different women, Logan has four children to two different women and has married thrice. Both their eldest children are uninvolved in the family business, while the rest are all a part of the empire. These are not characteristics that are mere coincidences.
And Rupert also sold the majority of his conglomerate to Disney, removing power from the hands of his offspring. That’s precisely the series’ plot too.
2. Is Kendall Roy inspired by James Murdoch?
Kendall Roy, the eldest son of Logan Roy, is inspired by the younger child of Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch. Kendall’s hot and cold nature towards his father is inspired by Logan’s exit after 20 years in the family business. Kendall’s foreboding nature finds its roots in Logan too.
Although he is Logan Roy’s oldest son, Kendall Roy does not share similarities with Lachlan Murdoch, the eldest son of the Murdoch family. Instead, he is based on Rupert Murdoch’s fourth child, James Murdoch.
A strong rumor citing that James ties his shoes extremely tight gave rise to Kendall’s intense and foreboding nature. According to The New Yorker, this rumor led to actor Jeremy Strong connecting with his character because it gave him an insight into the character’s ‘inner tensile strength.’
Kendall’s love for rap is based on James’ involvement in hip-hop (he once owned a label), and later after working for 20 years under his father, James walked away from the empire, citing “disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions .” Kendall was shifting between desperately needing his father’s approval and hating him throughout the show.
3. What inspired Kendall’s car accident in Season 1 of Succession?
Kendall Roy’s car accident in Season 1 of Succession was based on the Kennedys, where Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy negligently drove off a bridge, leading to the death of one of his employees. Kendall drives into a river, and the accident is fatal to the waiter accompanying him.
In the finale of Season 1 of Succession, Kendall drives into a river in an alcohol haze, and though he survives the accident, his waiter does not. To escape the legal repercussions, Kendall offers loyalty to his father.
In 1969, in what is dubbed the Chappaquiddick incident, Senator Ted Kennedy, brother to President John F. Kennedy, drove his car off a bridge, killing one of his employees. He was accused of negligence and intentionally committing the act but was never indicted. The only consequence he faced was a 16-month license suspension.
However, in the series, Logan forces Kendall to pay and make amends for his crime by meeting the victim’s family.
4. Who is Shiv Roy’s character based upon in Succession?
Shiv Roy is inspired by Elizabeth Murdoch, the second child of Rupert Murdoch. They both had separate careers from the family business, though finally, it was integrated into it, and they joined the media empire.
Elizabeth Murdoch owned independent TV stations that produced successful shows like Chernobyl and MasterChef. However, NewsCorp later acquired them in a controversial move that raised questions about nepotism, and she joined the family business, much like Shiv Roy.
Though she exited the empire in 2019, we can see where Shiv Roy’s storyline is based.
5. Who is Roman Roy’s character based upon in Succession?
Roman Roy, the youngest of the Roy family, is inspired by Lachlan Murdoch, the eldest child of Rupert Murdoch. Though he initially worked independently from his family empire, the latter ended up as Fox’s CEO in 2019. This could mean something for Roman’s future arc in the series.
5. Who is Connor Roy’s character based upon in Succession?
Connor Roy shares similarities with Prudence Murdoch, who, like him, is the only child from their fathers’ first marriage. Prudence is uninvolved in her father’s business, and even Connor, to an extent, is not involved in the sibling rivalry for power.
6. Who inspired the Pierce family in Succession?
The Pierce family was likely based upon several real-life established media families like the Sulzbergers, Bancrofts, Maxwells, and Hearst families. The Sulzbergers are a media dynasty owning the NY Times and, in particular, are a perfect model for rivals to the Roy family.
The Pierce family are adversaries to the Roys and own the successful media dynasty Pierce Global Media. They have been essential characters since the second season and have several real-life examples to inspire them.
7. Was Lukas Maathson in Succession inspired by someone in real life?
Lukas Maathson is the CEO of the streaming giant GoJo. He is immensely wealthy and reckless and can be compared to Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Elon Musk.
Daniel, like Lukas, is a young billionaire from Sweden, while Musk is the one and only Elon Musk, CEO of both Twitter and Tesla. The latter is popular for his controversial tweets, and this is a trait Lukas shares with him too.
Stay tuned to Cine Dope for the latest updates on Succession!
8. About Succession
Succession is a satirical comedy-drama TV series created by Jesse Armstrong for HBO. The American TV series first aired on HBO on June 3, 2018 and has four seasons.
It follows the Roy family who are owners of the conglomerate media house WayStar RoyCo. With patriarch Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) health on a steady decline, the heirs of the family business rival against each other for their rightful succession.
Part of the ensemble cast as Logan Roy’s children are Jeremy Strong playing Kendall, Kieran Culkin playing Roman, and Sarah Snook playing Siobhan.