Whether you tuned in for the family dysfunction, the timely media-tech business stories, the back-room political machinations, or the Greg and Tom comedy, Succession has captivated many of us over the past five years. Despite their treacherous behavior and ruthless, WTF insults, the characters and their plottings have become a reliably fun and familiar Sunday night escape. It also helps that they are mirroring a real-life family and an empire that has had an outsized influence on our collective lives.
So how to replace the hit HBO show as we stare down a summer full of reality TV?
We’ve rounded up four series and one feature film that will take you deeper into the family and worlds that inspired Succession.
The True Stories: The Murdoch Docuseries
Two documentary series in two years have tackled the Murdoch empire. The quicker version, The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty (2020), which can be found on BBC Select, is only three episodes and focuses on three pivotal years in Rupert Murdoch’s life that led up to the current succession battle still raging within the family: 1995, when he supported Tony Blair’s campaign and married Wendi Deng; 2011, the year of the UK phone-hacking scandal and Murdoch’s thwarted attempt to takeover of British broadcaster Sky; and 2016, when he backed both Brexit and Donald Trump’s election. Some revelations from the series: An alliance was formed, including celebrities like Hugh Grant, to try and take over the Murdoch Empire in the wake of its scandals. Playing to fans of the fictionalized HBO show, the docuseries includes “reenactment” scenes with actors.
Of course, these three moments in history beg some deeper questions, which is where CNN Original The Murdochs: Empire of Influence (2022) comes in. Based on investigative reporting from The New York Times Magazine, the seven-part doc tells the story of how Rupert Murdoch built his media empire from his father’s small newspaper business in Australia, expanding the company to the UK, the US, China and India. Some revelations: Rupert not only helped Donald Trump ascend to the presidency, he played a part in the political reigns of Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and Ronald Reagan.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find the series anywhere in the U.S., as HBO/Max purged it from its service – perhaps a testament to the Murdochs’ power? Instead, you will have to sign-up for SBS Australia to watch it.
The Real Life ATN: The Stories Behind Fox News
The Loudest Voice (2019)
Coming off of the final season of Succession, many viewers found themselves “Queasy Gonzalez,” as Kendall himself put it, watching the disturbing influence of the family’s right-leaning cable network on the presidential election.
While the HBO series has relished in taking things over the top, a more realistic portrait of the actual power of Fox News unfolds in The Loudest Voice, a Showtime series based on the bestselling book by journalist Gabriel Sherman. The fictionalized drama – starring Russell Crowe as Roger Ailes – tells the origin story behind the network and its creator, his rivalry with Rupert’s sons Lachlan and James, and how Ailes used his power and money to sexually harass, intimidate, and ultimately ruin the careers of the many women who worked for him – including Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly, Laurie Luhn, Rudi Bakhtiar, and others. The unlikely rise of Ailes and his career before Fox News is a riveting story, one that is still leaving its imprint on international politics.
Where to stream The Loudest Voice: Showtime
If the seven episodes of The Loudest Voice are too much to take on (it lost us with the creepy hotel scenes with Ailes and the women), you might be more inclined to watch the film Bombshell — a more timely story that focuses on the women who worked under Ailes. The film begins with Megyn Kelly (played by Charlize Theron) facing off against Trump in the heated 2016 debate, before following the parallel stories of what was unfolding for the marginalized Gretchen Carlson (played by Nicole Kidman), and a “composited” up and coming female staffer (Margot Robbie). While all of their stories will raise your hackles, the film takes a more nuanced look at how the characters and the cases against Fox News, and it’s not as predictable as one might assume. Each woman’s political background, motivations, compromises and inner conflicts are all excavated with some tight rope walking, and we eventually see how these three “believers” and competitors found the courage and solidarity to speak out.
The “Other Kendall”: Mother Father Son
A BBC series loosely based on Rupert Murdoch’s UK media empire and his relationship with his son James, this one stars Richard Gere as Max Finch, a London-based media mogul who owns an influential newspaper and a TV network in Britain – and leverages both to shape the political landscape.
His son, Caden, the editor of the UK newspaper (who bears a resemblance to James Murdoch), suffers a drug-induced stroke and an eventual breakdown, which leaves him without his inhibitions. His mother (played by the late great Helen McCrory) tries to reconnect with her son while challenging her former husband’s empire. A Muslim Prime Minister, a female Trumpian opposition leader, the hacking of a murdered girl’s phone, sex scandals and police corruption all factor into the plot. But unlike Succession, this one is more serious, and there’s a believable love story at the heart of it, one that airs out some hope that people are not destined to forever inherit the sins of their fathers.
Where to stream Mother Father Son: iTunes