'Succession': A real-life therapist breaks down the Roy family's daddy issues

Sonaiya Kelley, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

With its fourth season up and running, HBO's "Succession," one of the most layered and nuanced portraits of family dysfunction to air on television, has begun its long conclusion of the saga of the Roys.

Based loosely on Rupert Murdoch's media empire and Shakespeare's "King Lear," "Succession" is a family drama about the uber-rich Roy family and the various schemes and plots its siblings undertake in the hopes of being named successor of Waystar Royco, a media conglomerate founded and shepherded by patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox).

("All the rich white folk are going to argue, and then whoever's best is going to win a kiss from daddy," summarized comedy writer Demi Adejuyigbe in a viral "remix" of the show's theme song.)

"I thought it was interesting how well the show's writers were able to articulate what it looks like to have family trauma," said Elizabeth Earnshaw, a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of "I Want This to Work: An Inclusive Guide to Navigating the Most Difficult Relationship Issues We Face in the Modern Age." "How individual children can all grow up in the same family and respond so incredibly differently."

"Another really big theme was watching them continually try to placate Dad — who uses financial abuse every step of the way — hoping that one day they're going to be the favorite," she added. "That plays out (in the battle to be named successor), but it's really 'I want to be loved by this man.' And no matter what they do, it never works."

Here, Earnshaw "diagnoses" each member of the Roy family to provide insight into their various daddy issues and differing attachment styles.


Kendall Roy

Attachment style: Anxious-preoccupied

Kendall is the eldest son of Caroline Collingwood (Harriet Walter) and Logan, junior only to Connor (Alan Ruck), Logan's child from an earlier marriage. Over the course of three seasons, Kendall has served as both a lapdog and direct adversary of Logan and displays his emotional woundedness through his struggles with various addictions.

"I think that when Kendall was growing up, the constant back and forth [from Logan] was probably, 'You're supposed to be as tough as I am, but you're not, so I'm going to beat you down,'" said Earnshaw. "Logan constantly dangles carrots [in front of] Kendall. He makes him feel like he should be the man of the house and because of that, he can easily impact Kendall's ego."


swipe to next page

©2023 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus