Illustrations: Patrick Hosmer

Are the Women of ‘Succession’ Finally About to Smash the Patriarchy?

On the eve of the season finale, a roundtable discussion about Siobhan Roy, female power, and the best show on TV


SSeason two of Succession ends on Sunday night, and there remains hardly a single character to root for in HBO’s semi-absurdist Shakespearean dramedy about the Roy family and the parasites in their orbit. However, in the second season, the women of Succession are on the rise — in particular, Siobhan Roy, the only daughter among the four adult children angling to succeed their father, Logan, as head of the family’s media-entertainment conglomerate.

On a recent evening, the women editors of Medium hyper-decanted a few bottles of Burgundy, invited a few friends over to the office, including Irin Carmon of New York Magazine, and Rachel Syme, who has been keeping tabs on the Roys for The New Yorker and The New Republic, and kicked off the conversation with a simple prompt: What does female power look like in the world of Succession?

This discussion has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Siobhan O’Connor, VP editorial, Medium: After Sunday night’s episode, the number one thing that I went to sleep thinking about was: What actually motivates Shiv? Is it fealty? Is it power? And can those things actually be decoupled, given that she is both a woman and a daughter?

Irin Carmon, Senior correspondent, New York Magazine: Well, there’s the family legacy question, right? We had a glimpse of that in the most recent episode where she says, “my family’s company is on the line.” At first, Shiv thinks she’s different from the rest of the Roys. She tries to fulfill a meritocratic path by working for a politician. It was sort of a rebellion, working for a living.

But maybe that’s why her father offers her the job, to conscript her into this Ivanka-like role for the company. There are things that Shiv can do for the Waystar Royco, even just from an optics perspective. Over the course of the season, you see how she’s buying into the values of her father, and each time she has to make decisions that put her in a more abject position for the respect of her father.



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