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Succession is a sh*tty show -- really, it's about bodily fluids

  • The HBO drama is often compared to Shakespeare, both by critics and the characters themselves, says Sam Eichner. "Yet Succession and Shakespeare share more than literary themes and a penchant for wordplay," says Eichner. "They also share a preoccupation with bodily fluids. In Shakespeare’s day, audiences still believed in a Hippocratic system of medicine known as humorism, whereby four 'humors' indicated a person’s physical and emotional health: blood signified passion and youthfulness; phlegm signified apathy and cowardice; yellow bile signified anger and irritability; and black bile signified melancholy." Eichner adds that Jeremy Strong's Kendall Roy is like Hamlet, "extremely calculating, alternately performative and earnest, and prone to making decisions that are either insane or ingenious. Kendall sh*tting the bed is more than the consequence of doing too much cocaine, or even a visual pun for an idiomatic phrase: It’s a kind of accidental enema that purges his body of excess black bile. And it seems to have worked. Nothing says, 'I’m no longer full of poopy melancholy' quite like embarking on a psychosexual expedition with a Broadway actress and sycophantically rapping about your Dad to the sweet beats of one DJ Squiggle. The bodily fluids on Succession literalize its characters’ emotional states in less humoral ways, too. Early in season one, an incontinent Logan urinates on the floor of Kendall’s office, revealing both the extent of his illness and his need to mark his territory as the company he built is slipping out of his control. During the pilot, Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) vomits inside the mascot suit he wears during his parks department training, foreshadowing the fact that he may not have the stomach to do what’s necessary to succeed in the family business. One of the most indelible scenes from season one features the enfant terrible, Roman, masturbating in his office, ostensibly climaxing to his view of the city inside a building where he feels utterly powerless. He’s simply jerking off, physically as much as professionally, for no other reason than to prove he can."


    TOPICS: Succession, HBO, Juliana Canfield, Matthew Macfadyen, Nicholas Braun, Pusha T, Sarah Snook, Theme Songs