Why Succession is the best show on TV right now

Sky

Succession has always been praised and respected but its popularity has significantly spiked with season three, becoming a show that you have to watch immediately each week otherwise it’ll be spoiled. It has somehow become this cultural phenomenon that everyone seems to be watching, like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones in their heydays.

I’m not going to pretend like I’ve been a fan of Succession from the beginning because that’s not the case. I watched seasons one and two during the first lockdown when Sky made the boxset available for free. And now it’s one of the only things I use my NowTV subscription for (also shout out to Scenes from a Marriage and Mare of Easttown) and the only show I religiously watch once a week.

No matter how late to the party you are, welcome to the club! And if you’ve still not taken the plunge, here are some reasons why you should:

The writing

I don’t think anybody can deny that the writing for this show is spectacular. It’s a drama but it makes me laugh more than some comedies. Who would have thought a show about the business dealings of the media conglomerate Waystar Royco and family members fighting to come out on top would be so funny? It could have been super dry, boring and serious in different hands but it’s gripping and so entertaining. Every week there are stone-cold gems that come out of the characters’ mouths that are just so memeable. Also, if you want to play a drinking game, take a shot every time someone says optics and temperature – you’ll get drunk in no time!

The characters

I’m generally of the opinion that you need at least one character to like or root for to stick with a TV show. But with Succession, they are all pretty awful people but I still can’t stop watching as I want to find out who comes out on top. There are different shades to my dislike though – I outright despise Logan (Brian Cox) as he is just the worst and there is no excusing his behaviour; Kendall (Jeremy Strong) is annoying as hell but I’m glad he’s going against Logan; I used to like Shiv (Sarah Snook) but she’s too interfering and getting too big for her boots, and Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) is very snaky and I reckon he’s not as harmless and clueless as he seems. Meanwhile, Connor (Alan Ruck) is OK as we only get him in small doses; Roman (Kieran Culkin) is irritating but has some redeeming factors, and my thoughts about Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) fluctuate week on week (I like him currently). Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) is probably the character I like the most.

You don’t need to know about business or politics

I have no idea what’s going on in terms of Waystar, its shareholders, and the proxy battle but that doesn’t hold me back. Tbh I don’t think you need to follow this stuff to enjoy it, but it might give you an added something if you understand it. I’m here for the family drama, the tug of war between Logan and Kendall and the witty writing.

I genuinely have no idea how this storyline is going to play out and who will ultimately end up leading Waystar – and I can’t wait to find out. Succession has always been good but season three has taken it to another level. Gripping top-tier television.

Airing on Sky Atlantic and NowTV every Monday

Zola: Sundance London Film Review

Zola

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Anna Kooris.

This is the dawn of a new era – the era of movies based on Twitter threads. Yep, you read that correctly!

Zola, based on the 148-tweet thread written by Aziah ‘Zola’ King in October 2015, tells the story of the wild trip the Detroit waitress (played by Taylour Paige) took to Tampa, Florida with fellow stripper Stefani (Riley Keough). Stefani promises her that she’ll rake in thousands pole dancing over the weekend but Zola is misled and the weekend is nothing like she expected (putting it mildly).

This story is insane and it’s crazy that it’s based on actual events. I decided not to read the thread beforehand and I’m glad because I could just enjoy the wild story for what it was, rather than picking out all the differences as some poetic licence has been taken. It is ultimately loyal to the general gist of the true story, and some of the tweets are directly used in the voiceover, while Zola’s account of what a person said or texted were sometimes used verbatim in the script.

Because it is based on a Twitter thread, Zola doesn’t have the traditional structure and the events wrap up pretty quickly, meaning there’s not much of an ending, it basically just stops! It’s a shame that the later tweets in the thread were abandoned because they would have made a really interesting epilogue that shed some more light on the main players.

Director and co-writer Janicza Bravo makes some bold style choices that weren’t always to my taste – although I loved a cutaway bit showing Stefani’s ridiculous side of the story and the decision to make the actors speak their texts as they write them. I really liked the chaotic energy and unpredictable nature of the piece, the writing (it made me laugh a lot), the costumes and styling, and the performances were A-class.

The story is about Zola but that character is mostly reactionary – she is thrown into this world she has no idea about and is basically stunned by everything that happens. However, I thought Paige gave her a great no-nonsense attitude and her pole dancing skills are incredible. But as she is the quieter of the two, she is often outshone by Keough, who gives a larger than life performance as Stefani, who talks a mile a minute with a very obvious “blaccent”.

Then there are the two male leads. Nicholas Braun – cousin Greg from Succession – is perfectly cast as Stefani’s stupid and clumsy boyfriend Derrek, who basically just comes along for the ride, and then there’s the standout – Colman Domingo as Stefani’s pimp Abegunde ‘X’ Olawale. He seems very pleasant and charming but he can flip the switch without notice and becoming totally terrifying. You do not want to cross this menacing guy.

I advise you not to read the thread first. It is best to go into Zola not knowing much at all because you shouldn’t spoil the wild ride you’re in for.

Showing at Sundance London on Sunday 1st August. In cinemas from Friday 6th August.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Emmys nominations: My thoughts

Emmy Awards

Today the nominations for the Primetime Emmy Awards were announced and this is a summary of my thoughts reading the shortlist:

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How to be Single: Film Review

how1

The romcom genre has been saved! Okay, so I probably won’t go QUITE that far but How to Be Single really feels like the best romantic comedy I have seen in a long time as it manages to avoid some of the formulaic and predictable plot points we have come to expect.

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