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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ASU chapter.

Like most of the great cable dramas, and to me, like so much of contemporary life, “Succession” was simultaneously tragic and comedic, entertaining and horrifying. Over its four seasons, which had a grand 90-minute finale on Sunday night, it was the apotheosis of a line of dark, galvanizing, breathtakingly excellent cable dramas about a criminal-adjacent milieu, shows that also have important, big things to say about our greed-addled American reality — “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad.” But “Succession” did something that none of its predecessors did.

On the surface, the show blurred fiction and reality in a way that was juicy and fun. But its X factor, the reason it resonated so profoundly, was that the blurring of fiction and reality in the world the characters inhabited was a devastating commentary on the blurring of fiction and reality in the world we viewers inhabit. No other show so skillfully used its real-time proximity to certain people and events — and did so just as life suddenly came to seem so uncertain and unreal. It’s also loosely based on the Rupert Murdoch family and his scandals over the years.  41 riveting hours over five very strange, disorienting years, “Succession” led an audience, around eight million of us in the final season, into its uniquely uncanny valley.

The show’s unlikable main characters — a superrich puppet master and his cynical, entitled children who together run a huge media corporation — are brilliant examples of a caste everyone nowadays really loves to hate. A critical mass of Americans has come to understand that big business and the rich hijacked and corrupted our political economy over the past several decades. The show resonated, too, because, during the same period, the commingling of American TV news (and thus politics) and show business has accelerated and played a crucial role in the national unraveling.

The writers and producers of “Succession” adhered to rigorous truthlikeness in depicting the corporate scheming, the lust for power for its own sake, the look and feel of life inside the bubble of the very rich, an unhappy family unhappy in its way, even the self-consciously jargony talk and strenuous insults. Its understanding of the politics of haute capitalists was also spot-on. Most are not right-wing true believers like the billionaires Charles Koch and Peter Thiel but more like Logan or Rupert Murdoch: Sure, they’re on the right, mainly for personal greed-is-good financial reasons. But to Mr. Murdoch and Logan, creating streams of alarming and misleading news like propaganda about issues they care little about, was a counterprogramming business opportunity.

For all Ken’s speechifying, at the funeral, about everything Logan built, Succession was a show about destruction—of human psyches, livelihoods and lives, and democracy. This, the show persuasively argues, is the flip side of the capitalist coin: endless competition that yields nothing but pain. “Maybe the poison drips through,” says Ken, but there are no maybes about it. Cursed by a patriarch who eradicated every trace of warmth from his soul, the Roy family destroyed everything it touched. The siblings were fascinating to watch because Armstrong conceived each one as a fully formed tragic hero, doomed by a combination of their unique fatal flaw and the many additional neuroses that metastasized out of the toxic rivalry Logan fostered in them.

For a while, the last episode let us believe that the Roy kids had grown a little, and were capable of something like ordinary sibling fun, playing in the ocean, and goofing around late at night in their mother’s kitchen. In the hard light of the business day, however, they were out only for themselves. Roman ran away, Shiv pulled maneuvers worthy of her name, and Kendall showed that the truest, hardest fact of your life can be transmuted into fiction if the princeling wishes it. In “Succession” there were no redemptive character arcs. It was beautifully ugly from beginning to end.

As it concluded, the show managed to separate itself from the real-life particulars that had inspired and energized it. Its fictional world was all its own. But it spoke to ours powerfully. In time the chatter about the Roy children (and Tom!) will die down, along with the debates about the allure or loathsomeness of their tastefully lavish lives. What should linger are its truths about the corrupting effects of untethered power, the unfathomable cynicism of people in high places, the failure of billions to buy happiness, and, most of all, today’s mesmerizing, confusing, terrifying interplay of fact and fantasy.

Isys Morrow is a Junior studying English and is a writer at the Her Campus at ASU chapter. In their free time, they enjoys reading, writing, rating movies on Letterboxd, and trying new coffee shops. She especially enjoys walking her dog Ace in the summertime.