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From 'Chuckles the Clown' to 'Dumpster Brothers,' Succession Keeps the Biting Nicknames Coming

The series's nickname machine is firing on all cylinders in "Tailgate Party."
  • Kieran Culkin and Jeremy Strong in Succession (Photo: David Russell/HBO)
    Kieran Culkin and Jeremy Strong in Succession (Photo: David Russell/HBO)

    [Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for Succession Season 4, Episode 7, “Tailgate Party.”]

    Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) have never been more inseparable. Now that they’re running Waystar Royco as a team, they’re becoming Succession’s go-to dynamic duo, matching fighter pilot jackets and all. It may be bad news for the company at large — with bombshell firings left and right — but it’s great for the show’s ever-growing list of nicknames. Season 4, Episode 7, “Tailgate Party,” marked the debut of the Dumpster Brothers, the latest installment in that particular subset of sobriquets.

    First, there were the Tattoo Brothers, the name Gerri gave to Kendall and Roman in Season 3 after learning that a prank at Kendall’s bachelor party resulted in an unhoused man getting the initials “KLR” tattooed on his forehead — she used it to remind Roman that if Kendall goes down for the act, so does he. Then there were the Disgusting Brothers, a nickname that Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) may have given to himself and Greg (Nicholas Braun) ironically, but which Greg gleefully embraced in the Season 4 premiere just moments after he may have “rummaged to fruition” in Logan’s (Brian Cox) home. “Tailgate Party” completes the trifecta with the Dumpster Brothers, Tom’s term of not-so-much endearment for the brothers who are continuing to gut the company.

    It’s not even the only nickname for Kendall and Roman in this episode alone. Shiv (Sarah Snook) gets in a dig calling them “Dumb and Dumber” and Greg proudly declares them — and himself — “Team KenRo.” In fact, this Election Eve party has enough clever monikers to go around. Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) deems Greg “The Slim Reaper” after hearing that he fired 100 people in three days (and perhaps because he doesn’t know his real name, calling him “Gary” and “Mr. Nephew” up until now), and Tom rolls his eyes at the “Weekend Malbec Morons” in an attempt to put down Nate (Ashley Zukerman) while also trying to unload his very bad biodynamic wine. Everybody gets the chance to show off just how smart they think they are when dropping one of these names — the smug grin on Kendall’s face when he refers to one of the partygoers as “The Pod Goddess” says it all.

    One of Succession’s defining factors is its ability to pump out biting labels at an impressive rate. In the world of the show, it’s just another coping mechanism for the characters who can’t quite express how they really feel. Before Tom and Shiv’s toxic fight on the balcony, she calls him “Mr. Mild,” preferring to sideswipe him until going for the jugular is completely necessary. The tactical execution of these names is also a reminder that even in its darkest moments, Succession produces comedic gold. Nothing proves that more than the expert deployment of the phrase “Chuckles the Clown,” the most hilarious moniker to date, in Season 4, Episode 3, “Connor’s Wedding,” arguably the series’s most depressing episode.

    Just as Matsson marveled at the sheer number of Roys who traveled to Norway (“There’s more of you?”), it’s easy to be awed by the number of hilarious and fitting nicknames Succession has at the ready in each episode. And if “Tailgate Party” is any indication, that machine will be firing on all cylinders up until the very last episode.

    Succession airs Sundays at 9:00 PM ET on HBO. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Succession, HBO, Alexander Skarsgard, Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, Nicholas Braun, Sarah Snook