HBO’s acclaimed series Succession, created by Jesse Armstrong, portrays the power struggles, family dynamics, and media machinations of the Roy family, a fictional dynasty that owns and operates a global media and entertainment conglomerate called Waystar Royco. While the show is a work of fiction, it draws inspiration from real-life examples of corporate empires, media moguls, and dysfunctional families.
Succession’s Logan Roy: Rupert Murdoch
The patriarch of the Roy family, Logan Roy, is a ruthless and cunning businessman who built Waystar Royco from scratch and controls it with an iron fist. His media empire includes newspapers, TV networks, and online platforms that shape public opinion and influence politics.
Logan’s Australian accent, conservative views, and personal scandals suggest a resemblance to Rupert Murdoch, the media magnate who founded News Corp and Fox News. Like Logan, Murdoch is known for his appetite for power, loyalty to family members, and willingness to use his media outlets to advance his interests. Murdoch has faced controversies and scandals, including phone hacking, political interference, and sexual harassment allegations. Still, he remains an influential figure in the media landscape.
See Also: Rupert Murdoch and Family
Succession’s Kendall Roy: James Murdoch
The eldest son of Logan Roy, Kendall Roy, is a complex and conflicted character who struggles with addiction, self-doubt, and loyalty. He is also ambitious, intelligent, and competitive, and he wants to succeed his father as the CEO of Waystar Royco. His relationship with Logan is fraught with tension and resentment. Kendall feels he has been passed over and marginalized in favor of his younger siblings. Kendall’s trajectory echoes that of James Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch, who was once seen as the heir apparent of the Murdoch empire but eventually clashed with his father and left the family business.
James Murdoch has been critical of his family’s conservative politics, handling the phone hacking scandal, and their alignment with Donald Trump. He has also invested in media ventures that reflect his progressive values and concern for social issues, such as climate change and racial justice. Like Kendall, James Murdoch is a flawed and fascinating character who defies easy categorization.
Succession’s Shiv Roy: Elisabeth Murdoch
The only daughter of Logan Roy, Shiv Roy, is a sharp and ambitious political strategist who works for a liberal presidential candidate and seeks to distance herself from her family’s conservative media empire. She is also a complex and conflicted character who struggles with her loyalty to her father, her brothers, and her own ambitions. Shiv’s relationship with Tom, her husband and a high-ranking executive at Waystar Royco, is also complicated and volatile as they navigate their power dynamics, sexual desires, and sense of self.
Shiv’s trajectory echoes that of Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch, who has been involved in media ventures outside her father’s orbit and has expressed progressive views on gender and diversity. Elisabeth Murdoch founded her own production company, Shine, which produced popular TV shows such as MasterChef and Broadchurch before being acquired by her father’s company. She also established a philanthropic foundation, Freelands, that supports arts and education projects. Like Shiv, Elisabeth Murdoch is a bright and savvy woman who challenges gender stereotypes and family expectations.
Succession’s Tom Wambsgans: Joel Klein
Tom Wambsgans, portrayed by Matthew Macfadyen in the show, Succession, is an intriguing character who strives to climb the corporate ladder while being insecure and manipulative. Joel Klein, a lawyer and education reformer, shares many similarities with Tom. Klein, who served as the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education and later became the CEO of Amplify, is also ambitious, insecure, and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. Both characters provide a glimpse into the world of power and ambition in the corporate world, with Tom being a fictional representation and Joel being a real-life example. Exploring the real-life counterparts of Succession’s characters allows us to gain insight into the dynamics of the corporate world.