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Why Do Fans And Critics Not Like Season Three Of ‘Succession’?

“Literally nothing has happened.”

Credit: HBO

The third season of ‘Succession’ aired on 17 October, and fans are criticizing it for the lack of action. The disappointment with the show that is often cited as one of the best on TV these days has been echoed in the response of movie critics to the first seven episodes of season three.

‘Succession’ follows the lives of the wealthy Roy family, led by the 80-year old patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox), a character that has been compared to Rupert Murdoch and King Lear. Shakespearean comparisons were heaped on the first two seasons, with Richard III and Titus Andronicus also cropping up in reviews of the show. The series was created by showrunner Jesse Armstrong, who worked on ‘My Parents Are Aliens’ and ‘Peep Show’, and has been praised for developing a story-driven by morally questionable characters amid the CGI bombast of big cinematic franchises that are now leading film and TV.

However, according to fan and critical response to the latest nine-episode drop, the characters have mostly become stuck in a rut, circling back to where they were at the beginning of season one.

“The second season worked so well because the Roys were repeatedly shoved into the pressure cooker of isolated, unknown environments: a hunting lodge, a safe room … Each new episode featured as a one-act play, marching inevitably towards implosion,” wrote Sophie Gilbert for the Atlantic.

“Season 3, though, is more like a redo of the show’s debut, … Mired in the safe spaces of penthouses and hotel suites and private jets, it all feels snippily familiar.”

Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times agreed, writing, “What is left to sustain our interest in a Lear who lacks poetic majesty and four selfish scions without a speck of the principled goodness Shakespeare highlights in Cordelia?”

Fan response has been more muted but still negative on the whole. “Finally admitting to myself that this season of Succession is mid and that’s ok,” one fan posted on social media. Another commented, “I definitely think I’d be enjoying it more if it hadn’t been delayed because of the pandemic. It’s just way too slow of a burn on any real plot progression this season after that long of a wait from the S2 cliffhanger.”

In contrast to the negative reviews, season three was defended by Gita Jackson in an article for VICE. “If ‘Succession’ is spinning its wheels as a show, it’s because the characters by their nature are circling the drain … It’s less like watching the Roys race to the top, and more like watching Armstrong paint a portrait,” she argues.

Regardless of it maintaining a high quality of dialogue, and the Shakespearian characters, ‘Succession’ could find itself facing declining viewership numbers if Armstrong and his team of writers don’t hash out a more propulsive plot. The average viewership dropped a little from season one to season two, but the viewing figures have yet to be released for the latest season. The final episode of season three airs on December 12.

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