Part reality show, part social experiment, part work of (evil?) genius.
It’s impossible to describe exactly the kind of absolutely wild project this is, and it’s really worth your time to just watch the first episode blind and see for yourself.
Nathan Fielder might be a supervillain. There’s a lot of conversation to be had about the ethics of The Rehearsal, because on one hand it feels exceptionally manipulative, but it’s also hyper-conscious of exactly this fact and accounts for itself in frequently surprising ways.
Seriously though, check it out. It will make you say “What the fuuuuuuuuuuck…?”
Of course, Succession is still actually billed as a comedy, though it’s so massively steeped in its satire while it plays totally straight. The humour comes from just how nightmarishly awful this family is—doubled again because it feels like it could be a biopic series about the Murdochs or the Packers. Even the Trumps are more comical in real life than the fictional Roy family.
We follow the Roys during a time of upheaval at their massive media conglomerate. It’s a family affair, so the question is: which of the three children (the fourth is so blissfully useless as to be entirely out of the question) will come to take over the top job.
Problem is, Logan Roy is an absolute c***, and nobody is more aware of this than Logan Roy. Each season becomes an exercise in seeing him psychologically twist and ruin each of his children in turn as they vie for his favour and position.
The real masterwork is in seeing how the writing can make you loathe each of them, but then come to pity them, until it wants you to remember that not a single one of them actually has any redeeming qualities they wouldn’t sell out in an instant.
And they frequently. It’s non-stop scheming, manipulation and power plays. In three seasons it has never once been made clear what any of them actually does in their job.
It’s absolutely compelling, fascinating, and blackly hilarious.
Less the Cthulhu mythos elements of Lovecraft’s stories, but rather taking small, weird tales of scifi, cosmic horror, occult organisations, time/space travel and wrapping them all in post-Korean wartime black United States.
So of course, all the supernatural darkness and horror that comes with the magical side of things is frequently less terrifying, threatening and horrible than the everyday racism the protagonists face in their ordinary lives.
It’s brilliantly done. Each episode takes this lens and focuses it through the tone and genre of classic pulp novels — one time a haunted house, one time an artefact heist adventure, one time a body-swapping life-in-their-shoes story, one time a time-travelling historical lesson, one time a mythological fable crossed with a wartime romance.
The cast and their performances are fantastic, the VFX are cinematic quality (not to mention impressively visceral and disgusting) while the choices to use anachronistic modern elements of black culture only serve to further elevate and enhance the experience.
There’s just so, so much packed into only ten episodes that it puts many other shows to shame with both its ambition and execution.
Mostly lives up to the impossible task of following on from a legendary piece of graphic fiction.
Takes up in the modern day, following the trajectory of the world that was created after Ozymandias teleported an engineered giant dimensional squid into New York to unite humanity against a perceived common extraterrestrial threat.
Yep, this is a continuation of the comics, not the Zack Snyder film adaptation – because while that is a tonally faithful translation of the incredibly precise graphic novel, there are key mechanical differences that are relevant here that land in spoiler territory.
But even in doing an excellent and clever job of expanding the world, it ultimately only manages to be something of a paler imitation of a superior story that was designed to intentionally be complete in and of itself.
Still, plenty to enjoy. A great modernised take on a classic, well executed social commentary and some good turns. Recommended.