“Succession”‘s series finale was so bleak it made “Barry”‘s bruise-black finale (which aired right after it) look downright sunny in comparison. More than half of “Barry”‘s main cast was killed or wrongfully convicted for murder–with Hollywood even giving them the full villain treatment, which is probably worse than death for most of Barry’s limelight-obsessed characters–and yet it didn’t leave me nearly as shaken as the last 15 minutes of “Succession”‘s final episode. The both of them put together might have had you running to the latest episode of “Ted Lasso” afterwards–sure, its own final season is so sappy it’s borderline patronizing (“very special episodes” about nude leaks, coming out, or forgiveness border on comedic after school specials), but it’s hard not to feel like watching anything non-cataclysmic after two finales that each felt more depressing than an entire season of “The Last of Us.”
I’ll do a separate article about “Succession” tomorrow, but for now I’d like to answer the classic “Succession” question: “Which one of these terrible characters do you actually like?” Even from the first episode, this is the question I’ve seen asked the most.
[Quasi-runnerup: I like Frank, because he’s deadpan hilarious (”I give him a B+…for ‘bad plus terrible’” or sarcastically saying “I’m excited to see more of the Balkans” when Logan fled to Bosnia) and a little more likable than Logan’s other longtime stooges.]
From early on in the series, I’ve gone with Kendall Roy…and there’s not even much competition. You have to understand how completely and utterly alone Kendall is (which the finale hammered home), and yet he’s still (somewhat) trying to do the right thing.
—His sister is awful with a capital-A…
—His older brother is awful… [Another cheap fuck inherited wealth bum who thinks he’s an intellectual rogue for not wanting to pay taxes. Connor is the kind-of delusional a-hole who proposes to a prostitute at another person’s wedding, and then gets mad when no one says “congrats” even though the woman hasn’t agreed to marry him and clearly cares nothing for him.]
—His younger brother is awful… [He hangs Ken out to dry at least twice, and repeatedly insists it should be him in the series finale even though he has never demonstrated the slightest aptitude at anything.]
—His mother is really awful… [When Ken is desperate to tell her about the waiter that drowned, his mother looks uncomfortable at a possible display of emotion, and then skips out the next morning to avoid hearing it. She also royally screws her kids at the end of season 3, and that’s after asking Ken to avoid Logan at most of the major wedding functions which almost certainly contributed to his near-suicidal “pool accident.”]
—His stepmother (Marcia) certainly has her own agenda… [This character is clearly based on Wendy Murdoch or Melania Trump, as a “mysterious woman” third wife pretending to be traditional.]
—The women his dad dates on the side all have their own agendas… [Like Rhea being made CEO after sleeping with Logan, or Kerry enjoying her power in season 4.]
—His best friend (Stewie) has his own agenda…
—People he makes rich hate him… [Vaulter’s CEO is a total jerk to Ken for a full season before Ken screws him.]
—His Uncle Ewan is an insufferable phony… [He knows how bad Logan and ATN are, but refuses to help Ken change things in any way—siding with Logan on the No Confidence vote and upset with Ken for “airing dirty laundry” at the end of season 2.]
—His estranged wife/ex-wife Rava treats him with passive aggressive tedium… [There is not a single interaction they have where she doesn’t look like she’s merely tolerating him, and she seems more emotional about a bottle of wine Greg opened in season 3 than the bust up of her marriage, Ken getting passed over, Ken getting fired, Logan slapping her kid, Ken turning whistle blower, or really anything other than literally screaming about a bottle of wine.]
–His brother-in-law Tom screws him over royally at least twice. [Seasons 3 and 4 definitely end with this being the case, and he sure seems adamant for Ken to go to jail in his place in the season 2 finale.]
—When Ken called for that “No Confidence” vote in season 2, there are at least three board members that should’ve sided with him (his Uncle, his best friend Stewie, and the Vaulter CEO he’d made rich who even said he wanted Ken’s dad out of the way only a few episodes earlier)…
—When Ken tried to push out his dad, probably all of his siblings should’ve sided with him—instead, none of them did (neither mid-season 1 nor early season 3). Only a few months later, their dad would sell the company without their consent, when they all could’ve prevented it by siding with Ken earlier…
—I don’t even need to waste time talking about Logan, who seems to delight in torturing Ken… [Tricking him into signing a worse trust the day he’s supposed to make Ken CEO, peeing in his office as a power move, wanting to banish him to Asia out of fear he did too good a job as CEO, firing him, holding the drowning death over his head to get him to do whatever he wants, then willing to “sacrifice” him with real prison time when nobody had to do time, etc.]
Over and over, nobody major is with Ken or he’s receiving almost no support to change the company and/or become a better person (sometimes it feels like they’re tied together)… [He calls a “No Confidence” vote and multiple people that hate Logan inexplicably back him anyway in a way that gets Ken pushed out of the company…He becomes a whistleblower, but the government largely doesn’t care, and the media mostly seems to hate Ken for coming forward.]
Throughout the entire series you can’t help but root for him against overwhelming odds.
That’s what makes the series finale one of the most brutal, apocalyptically bleak finales I’ve ever seen, completely reinforcing the idea that Ken is surrounded by a truly awful family that would prioritize a total stranger over him and/or even go against their own interests just to screw him over.