Succession & Your Family Business – Season 3: Episode 6 – What it Takes

by | Nov 26, 2021 | Lifestyle

The opening sequence of Season 1, Episode 1, of Succession shows Logan Roy stumbling out of bed and peeing in the closet instead of the toilet. This neatly summarizes how Logan will treat his children during the next three seasons.

As the Chairman and CEO of Waystar Royco, Logan has earned the right to make capricious decisions about the company and the fate of his children in connection with the business.  While 66% of Family Business Owners want their Family Businesses to continue through the next generation, only 33% of those businesses make it to the next generation.  Perhaps being a self-absorbed megalomaniac isn’t the surest path to secure the family business legacy.

What would have happened to the Roy family if Logan had made Kendall the CEO of Waystar as originally planned?  (For one thing, there wouldn’t have been a Succession television series.)  Would Kendall still be part of the family?  Would family control of Waystar Royco be precipitously hanging in the balance?  Would Shiv be pumping out babies?

Nobody doubts that “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely” so the idea of a patriarch controlling wives, children, mistresses, enemies, etc. is a well documented tale.  The most extraordinary part of George Washington’s life is that he simply walked away from the power of the presidency after two terms to set a precedent for future presidents.  So how do you deal with the power dynamics within the family business?

My father and I had a contentious relationship for many years.  It wasn’t based on conversations about the family business because that would mean that we had conversations.  After college, I went into a Buyer’s Training program at a Macy’s Department store keeping alive the possibility of going into the family’s big and tall clothing business.  When I decided against going into the family business, my father announced that he and my uncle were selling the family business one-week before my wedding. After many years, my father and I became great friends.  Would this have happened if we hadn’t sold the business? I don’t know.

What does that say about Family Businesses and your Family Business?  It can either be a multi-generational albatross that subverts the relationship between family members, or it can be a launch pad to meet the individual needs of the family members, a beacon of light in the community and a source of pride and sustenance for decades.

It’s probably worth figuring it out.

Season 6, Episode 6 – What It Takes (spoiler alert)

I can’t lie, Episode 6 left me a bit dispirited.  I’m old enough to know that elections are bought and sold despite whatever form of governance exists in a country.  The basic life lesson from Succession is that the rich and powerful care about being rich and powerful even though they screw it up most of the time.  Episode 5 – Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves

At the beginning of the episode, the family is taking the private jet or “pjing” over to the right-wing cabal who are gathering to choose, or watching Logan choose, the next Republican candidate.  Why is this…because the election is in six-months.  We live in a world where a cat bouncing up and down to The Kitty Cat Dance on YouTube can get 19 million views.  You would think this tiny, tiny, tiny tidbit of information such as the Presidential election would have seeped into the Roy family conversation not to mention Succession’s three-year storyline.

The United States Presidential 2024 campaign started on January 6, 2021, when rioters stormed past the Capitol Police.  Flash forward three years and it’s literally going to be the only thing that Americans are discussing except for the 11th variant of Covid.  Shows such as Ted Lasso, Squid Game, or Hot College Girls on the Make don’t necessarily have to delve into the nuisances of politics.  We’re all grateful for that escape.  While Succession isn’t about politics per se, it’s about the largest family-owned media company that seeks to subvert the political process for financial and political power.  To create and plunk the family into this right-wing hootenanny six-months before the presidential feels a bit gratuitous.

Creating a season of television is a difficult task and Succession has had its fill of “B” stories.  However, the “let’s put on an election” feels uncomfortably like there was more than a bit of scrambling in the writer’s room.  Could it be that Succession has jumped the shark and it’s downhill from here?  Next week is Kendall’s 40th birthday episode, which will be “Weimar meets Carthage meets Dante meets AI meets antibiotic-resistant superbug.”  We’re confident for some high tone debauchery and a return to form.

Who are the contenders to replace the Raisin?  They include Lip-licking, Vice President Dave Boyer; Rick Selgado with his campaign promise of locking up Logan to pave the way for Shiv; Jeryd Mencken the alt-right pin-up boy; and Connor.

After an evening of frivolity, the Roy Family returns to the Royal Suite.  Logan unbuttons his jacket, plops down on the couch, and gets to the business of picking the next Republican candidate.  Logan is asked to seriously think about Connor’s candidacy and he responds “Joe Kennedy did it for his boys”.  If Roy Logan is based on Rupert Murdoch, then Joseph Kennedy, Sr. is his Godfather.

Joseph Kennedy, Sr. was a self-made businessman who had dreams of becoming President.  Those dreams were dashed due to his support of Hitler, Roman Catholic background, overt Anti-Semitism, etc.  Since Joseph couldn’t become President, he decided to support/buy his oldest son, Joe Jr., the Presidency.  Joe Jr. was killed during WWII, so Joe made John F. Kennedy into the 35th President.  While politics isn’t technically a family business, it qualifies as a “family business occupation” as demonstrated by the Kennedys, Bushs, Roosevelts, Adams, 500+ years of Western Europe monarchies, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc.

So why not Connor for President.  He’ll certainly put his family’s interests above the country, he’s willing to pimp Willa to get support from Larry Lech, and we’re unaware that he’s killed anybody.

On the other hand, Tom’s probably wondering why he ever left Minnesota.  He’s gone from Terminal Tom to the Christmas tree in which you can hang your crimes on.  Tom has the best line of the episode when tells Greg that he’ll like the conservative summit because, “It’s a nice safe space where you don’t have to pretend to like ‘Hamilton.’”

Kendall meets Tom at his local diner (Tom has been going there to get use to bland food).  Kendall tries to flip Tom who is a man truly in search of a lifeline.  Ultimately, he declines because “My hunch is that you’re going to get fucked,” Tom tells Kendall, “Because I’ve seen you get fucked a lot… and I’ve never seen Logan get fucked once.”

I can’t wait for Kendall’s 40th!
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Allen Esrock is the Founder of NxtGen Nexus, a platform for the next generation of family business owners which is based on his experience of growing up in a family business. Prior to that he started Jitter Fingers, the first safe, social networking website for tween girls and their bffs with Jitter Finger clubs in 12+ countries and 250+ cities in the US.

About the Author

Allen Esrock is the Founder of NxtGen Nexus, a platform for the next generation of family business owners which is based on his experience of growing up in a family business. Prior to that he started Jitter Fingers, the first safe, social networking website for tween girls and their bffs with Jitter Finger clubs in 12+ countries and 250+ cities in the US.