Generally when you’re trying to decide who the main character is in any given story — if it’s not immediately obvious that is — you would ask a bunch of questions: “Who changes the most?” “Whose want drives the story?” “Who has the hardest journey?” “Who is the enemy trying to kill?”
But those are questions you can only ask when you’ve reached the end. If you ask, “Who is the main character of Star Wars,” it would probably come down to Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. But Han doesn’t change, his journey is the least arduous, and what he wants is mainly to not get caught. Luke wants to be a fighter pilot; he has to face things he doesn’t even yet know (that Darth Vader is his father, e.g.); and he has the harder journey in that he must be trained by Yoda.
In Succession, I don’t think I’ve ever met a group of characters who I find more repulsive than this family. But I was thinking about the fact that everyone wants something (money); no one changes at all; and none of the characters have any kind of journey to make. They might go through some sadness in their lives, but as Shiv said to Ken when he thanked her for coming to his birthday party, “It was just a few blocks.” That, of course, is part of the problem. His thanks was probably insincere or could be insincere. Everyone lies. The Roman character has a fondness for saying things out loud, but he’s still a liar and a manipulator. So then I think about the enemy, or the fact that they are all enemies of each other, and zero in on the main enemy: the father. The one that the title is all about. He is the main enemy, and his main enemy, in turn, is his son Kendall.
Kendall is mentally ill (no other characters seems to understand this, though they call him crazy), and watching his birthday party episode, at one point, I wanted to scream because he was literally not saying anything at all. Just babbling noises. “We good? Are we good? What? It’s a thing? Yes? No? Yes?” He is surrounded by sycophants who despise him and do not give him truthful advice but merely acquiesce to his every idea, including singing “Honesty,” by Billy Joel while chained to a cross that’s suspended in the middle of the room. (Fortunately, he sees the error of doing that, and doesn’t, but this realization leads to him finally understanding how pathetic his 40th birthday party is, and perhaps that he doesn’t have a single actual friend.)
And then I was thinking about how the show can be resolved. It can’t, without Kendall either being committed, or inheriting the company, or killing his father (figuratively or literally). He has already tried once and this third season picked up from that moment when he decided to kill his father rather than let his father send him to jail. But he seems to be losing the fight and also his mind.
Everything else is unnecessary. The older brother is an ass of extraordinary uselessness — a gelding. The sister and younger brother have journeys but both have already shown the same sycophantic and masochistic tendencies toward their father that their own underlings have towards them.
It’s a good example of how plot — and perhaps too much of it — can get in the way of understanding the essential question of the novel (or in this case, a tv series). Every week we get another investor or deal that has to be done to save the company. This time it was something to do with a failing app service company, or something. I don’t know. It didn’t matter.
And one thing I really dislike about the show is that it does not take on the fact that Rupert Murdoch has done everything he can to sow division and hatred in this country through The NY Post, Fox “News” channel, The Wall Street Journal, etc. The show is based on Murdoch and his family and their media company is an alt right bastion of lies and misinformation. But they don’t address this — although I think Kendall might have obliquely at some point — can’t remember. Anyway, I’ll be glad when it ends. Someone I know said that the characters were blind but didn’t know it. I think that’s true and I don’t care about any of them.