In HBO’s “Succession,” you lose if you eat food

Autumn light streams through the treetops of Central Park West and streams down Jean-Georges, giving the gray banquettes a matte silver sheen. The space is simple, rigorously neutral, undeniably grandiose and tranquil. Each table has a good view of the others, but the space is luxuriously wrapped and almost private.

It’s the perfect place for the children of Roy, the scion of the Waystar Loiko Media empire in HBO’s “Succession,” to discuss their father’s funeral arrangements.

The conversation was lively and they chose Jean-Georges as their meeting place, but they didn’t eat. The pastries (oversized dark canelés and fruit-encrusted breads) and the fan-shaped assortment of cut fruit are left completely untouched. They leave without unwrapping napkins or soiling plates. A slight feather-like mark of Shiv’s naked lipstick on the coffee cup is the only sign of their presence.

It’s not uncommon for the Roy family to avoid eating. From Logan’s humiliating game “The Boar on the Floor” to the hideous box of donuts kids send when they try to meet in secret, the food in “Succession” is always deliciously toxic, cacophony and load-bearing. It takes and draws a line with the movie. Family trauma and power relations.

In the final season, however, things get particularly skewed and grim. It’s as if the show has plunged into the Ozempic era, where real power is only found in the complete absence of appetite. For those who have a meaningful place in the “inheritance”, food is almost non-existent rather than there for enjoyment and nourishment. If a character has a snack, no matter how small, it tends to be a red flag.

Siobhan Roy’s husband, Tom Wambusgans, was not born of money, but married into this ultra-wealthy family and carefully studied their patterns and privileges. He is very aware of the contradictions and complexities of the implicit etiquette of the American upper class, and is often the first to criticize mistakes.

“She’s devouring canapés like a hungry warthog,” Tom told his cousin Greg, noting the inappropriate date Greg brought to Logan’s birthday lunch. Because she’s more mediocre than actually eating her food, what could mean she’s out of place?

Not long after, at Logan’s wake, Tom mistakes his position and names himself interim CEO of the company. If it’s not already clear that he made a terrible mistake, it’s when Tom popped a fish taco into his mouth. Helpless and chewing, Carl imagines how the board will see him. The only man who pulled you through is dead, and now you’ve just married your ex-boss’ daughter, who doesn’t even like you. ”

By the time the Waystar team flies to Norway to complete the sale of the company to GoJo’s billionaire CEO Lukas Mattson, Tom sees the hospitality as pure gastric hostility. As senior Waystar executives stack food on plates at the buffet, he is careful not to be seen eating breakfast at all. “Ambush!” he calls out cheerfully to his colleague. “You fed and fattened to kill.”

And Tom is not wrong. A GoJo executive also commented on portion sizes: Asking for breakfast pastries isn’t the only thing the Waystar team feels embarrassed about now. Americans dress up for the countryside, desperate for deals and afraid to lose their jobs. Their hunger, their appetite, their keenness, it is a squishy surplus of weakness.

As Season 4 begins, Logan, battling his children to buy Pierce Global Media, gleefully walks out of his own birthday party to visit the Greek-owned coffee shop Nectar on Madison Avenue. (In Town & Country, Charlotte Druckmann wrote of the excursion as her own power movement.)

In one of those rare unguarded moments, we see Logan eating. But first, he claims to Colin, the bodyguard guarding the clock, that Colin is his best friend, that humans are just economic units in the marketplace, and they don’t know what happens to them when they die. Emotionally, he’s a mess.

“Nothing tastes like it used to, does it?” Logan muses. “Nothing is the same as before.”

In the episode airing on Sunday, the family reaches the pinnacle of both incompetence and power. Without the Roy brothers walking around, sliding notes directly to TV anchors, pushing their agendas to the top voting analysts, scrolling through Twitter, and rearranging headlines, Tom’s got the job done. Election day in the newsroom was already tense. to them. Tom is furious when Greg approves cheap sushi for lunch.

This isn’t much of a power move — it’s not, say, Logan trashing an entire sumptuous steak and lobster dinner for his family and telling his staff to order pizza instead — but , that is the only action. Tom, who lost control of the newsroom, had no control over the newsroom in the first place, so he left. He will allow election results to be manipulated and fabricated, and newsrooms to be compromised and shaken. He lets the world burn, but look, he’s over sushi. He doesn’t touch sushi.

Meanwhile, Greg gleefully digs into his own “bodega sushi” as the brothers pressure ATN election analyst Darwin to call off the election before it’s ready. It’s a subversive, hilarious sequence. “It’s not really about the numbers,” Roman says. “I just want to say that we’re doing well and that’s my fault.”

Shortly afterward, however, Darwin abandons editorial integrity and is punished for accidentally smearing wasabi from Greg’s sushi in his own eyes. Greg, in a clumsy and misguided effort to help, pours tingling lemon-flavoured Lacroix into his wounds.

It’s as if he didn’t know that food can’t make the situation better, it can only make it worse.

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