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HBO MAX Succession: Storytelling Through SUVs

Where the SUV's are the best supporting actors

By Leo Shvedsky
November 03 2021

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Cast of Succession, Season 3 now on HBO Max:

HBO’s hit TV show Succession is a satirical and dark exploration of one-percenter family life, ambition, and the need for acceptance. It’s about a family whose patriarch built a media empire, and inter-household chaos that ensues -- it’s utterly Shakespearean in its scope. 

Because theTUNDRA enjoys looking at cars (literally and figuratively) through the lens of cinema and TV as an inspired form of visual storytelling (check-out our look at cars featured in Wes Anderson’s films), we thought it would be fun to explore how the cars in Succession are part of the strange and complicated tapestry of the show.  

Cadillac Escalade SUV in Succession Season 1 Episode 7: Product Placement Blog  

To start, it’s important to point out the sea of blackness permeating throughout the series is exemplified by black SUVs zipping through the famous street grid of Manhattan -- there’s a duality to it that’s both a representation of wealth and a somber reflection of the tainted, greed and power-obsessed souls of the main characters. Like we said, Shakespearean.   

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Succession’s motorcade winds through Jersey: 

Taking a closer look at the SUV’s especially is worth a mention, because few status symbols spell wealth like a chauffeur-driven black SUV (yes – black is essential). Interesting data point: this is an equal opportunity film set – in addition to the quintessential Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes, there’s significant action-filled transport executed via Range Rovers. One might think that a Range Rover represents refined living, but, on more telling level that seems to matter less and less to the average consumer, the Range Rover is actually a fiend off-road.  

Check out this Terminator vs Range Rover Top Gear YouTube video of Range Rover absolutely shredding a steep craggy slope. There’s something to be said about a vehicle with an exterior that radiates opulence but inside contains a crafty mountain goat capable of traversing the toughest terrain that’s analogous to Succession's main character Logan Roy’s children and the car. They’re all outwardly wealthy and status-driven. But navigating the world can be challenging – for high net-worth individuals and average Janes & Joes in equal measure – a challenge of course that is made easier if you’re driving a shield of armor in the shape/form of a car that weighs nearly 5,000 pounds capable of going from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds. 

Gotta love a U-turn in Manhattan’s financial district: 

But we digress.  Succession’s famed Roy Family is not your normal family. In reflection, this TV clan is patriarchal, vying with one another for power of a vast media empire that appears medieval but in actuality makes the Montagues and the Capulets look like The Brady Bunch. Not unlike the rocky edifice of a bluff. The show is a dark comedy, and we laugh at the characters, but comedy is always reliant on the schadenfreude of it all, to a large extent. Afterall, we laugh because there is truth, an element of ourselves, in all comedy – it’s why we connect with it, why we laugh, right? 

 Succession Season 3 Now on HBO Max: Youtube Images  

There is always something to be said for the ways in which a car can help tell a story. There’s always a character archetype closely associated with a certain type of car, or how the mood and tone of a scene can be transformed with the use of a certain model from a certain year. So when you see a black SUV on TV it isn’t just that black SUVs are popular, it tells you something about the nature of a person or a time. A car isn’t just a car, it’s the zeitgeist actualized.  

Shakespeare, the Great Bard, would have been a fan – of Succession and of Range Rovers, that is. 

Related: The Symbolism Behind The Cars In 'Squid Game'



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