Over the five years that HBO’s Succession ruled Sunday night television, countless pixels have been spilled in praise of its writing. Here, though, Katie Baker celebrates the show’s culmination by laying bare exactly what it is that makes the writing so incredible: an unshakeable devotion to the way people actually communicate.
The other blending that Succession manages to pull off is the mix between its characters’ hyper-articulate moments and the frequent moments when they’re at a loss for words. One minute Kendall is name-checking Zadie Smith, the next he’s “just here to say: ‘yo.’” One minute Shiv is smooth-talking strategy about the India numbers, the next she’s having this simple conversation, to devastating effect:
Shiv: Yeah, you are not the most important one.
Kendall: I don’t think I am.
Shiv: Yes, you do. You do. You do. You fucking do. You do.
It’s a kind of verbal version of the way stylish people can pull off high-low fashion mixes, like Kristen Stewart pairing Chanel with Vans, and it’s a duality that the Succession writers can understand: They may love language, but that doesn’t mean they can always command it on cue.