Succession: Critics hail HBO drama’s ‘exhilarating’ return

Brian Cox in Succession
Image caption,Brian Cox plays family patriarch Logan Roy in the HBO drama

Critics have hailed the return of HBO’s hit drama Succession, the third season of which premiered in the US on Sunday.

The Telegraph’s Anita Singh gave five stars to the season’s “bitingly funny” first episode, saying “every line of dialogue is a gem”.

Writing in The Times, Carol Midgley said fans had a “glorious feast” in store that “succeeds on every level”.

The series, which airs on Sky Atlantic and Now in the UK from Monday, follows a dysfunctional media dynasty.

Its story hangs on ageing patriarch Logan Roy, played by Scottish actor Brian Cox, and which of his four children will eventually be named his successor.

Created by Peep Show’s Jesse Armstrong, Succession was named best drama series at last year’s Emmys – one of seven awards it received on the night.

The show is notable for its spiky, expletive-filled dialogue and its warring cast of characters, which more than one critic has likened to the Murdochs.

Two years ago, the second season came to a dramatic climax that saw Jeremy Strong’s Kendall Roy unexpectedly turn the tables on his father.

Jeremy Strong (centre) with Nicholas Braun (left) in Succession
Image caption,Jeremy Strong (centre) plays Kendall, one of Logan’s four children

In her five-star review, published earlier this month, The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan praised the show’s “fast-moving, exhilarating return”.

“There is no shortage of the corporate manoeuverings, jockeyings for position, eyes on chances and arses being covered that we have come to expect of America’s most monstrous family company,” she went on.

The Independent’s Philippa Snow concurred, describing the episode as “uproariously funny, painful and delightful”.

“After a terrible year, full of struggle and calamity and sickness, it is somehow still a pleasure to spend time with some of the worst and most narcissistic people ever written,” she continued.

“Success hasn’t spoiled Succession,” declared CNN’s Brian Lowry, who said the programme had returned “with all its Shakespearean and Murdochian overtones intact”.

Entertainment Weekly’s Kristen Baldwin agreed, saying the “kinetic and affecting” third season – delayed a year by the coronavirus pandemic – “doesn’t disappoint”.

Broadcaster Caroline Frost joined the chorus of approval on Radio 4 earlier, telling Today programme listeners that the third season was as “excellent” as its predecessors.

“I think anybody who comes to this series will find it equally satisfying,” she continued, going on to praise the drama’s “intimate viciousness”.

Sarah Snook in Succession
Image caption,Sarah Snook plays Shiv, the show’s primary female character

TV critic Boyd Hilton attributed much of the show’s success to its “brilliantly written dialogue”.

“All the characters talk in this incredibly funny, entertaining way,” he told Today. “It’s spectacularly entertaining just to watch them.”

Not every critic was in agreement however, with one reviewer suggesting the show now had “constricted ambitions” and felt “snippily familiar”.

“Maybe it’s churlish to complain about a series that’s still consistently better written and more refreshingly caustic than anything else on TV,” wrote The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert.

“But for me, Season 3 reveals some wear in a concept that once felt rousingly original.”

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