The conversation around a television show can be as fascinating as the show itself. One show that generates a ton of conversation is Succession, so we decided to test AI chatbots on their ability to join in the fray around the online watercooler.
Succession season 4, the final chapter of the HBO drama, is currently airing and fans are excited to see how the titular passing of the torch turns out. The show's essential premise revolves around if, when, how and to whom Logan Roy (Brian Cox) would hand over his media and entertainment conglomerate Waystar Royco.
The most obvious candidates have been his three younger children: Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv (Sarah Snook). Also vying for power are Logan's son-in-law Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) and nephew Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun).
Logan's eldest son Connor (Alan Ruck) is not in consideration, but non-family executives like Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron) and Karl Muller (David Rasche) are. Then there's the late-breaking interloper, tech mogul Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), who's made a deal with Logan for a merger between their two companies.
Here are the results.
ChatGPT hedges its bets
ChatGPT played it safe in answering the takeover question, which is pretty disappointing. Their answer didn't add much to the conversation:
"As an AI language model, I do not have access to information about future events, including who will take over on the TV series 'Succession.' The show's writers and producers have not yet revealed any details about the plot of future seasons, so any information about who might take over the company is purely speculative at this point."
Well, yeah, it's purely speculative. That's what we're asking for: speculation!
Even if ChatGPT isn't capable of speculation, it could have at least pulled some ideas from other sources. If you search "who will take over in Succession?", there are plenty of articles from entertainment sites pondering that question. Quoting a few of them would be more helpful than the feeble response we got.
Google Bard changes its mind
Unlike ChatGPT, the first time we asked Google Bard to chat about the outcome of Succession, it gave us a clear answer: Shiv.
"If the Roy siblings are able to take over Waystar Royco, it is likely that Shiv will be the CEO. She is the most experienced of the siblings, and she has always been the most ambitious," it said.
Whether Shiv is the "most experienced" is debatable but that's what watercooler talk is all about! New York Times writer Jennifer Vineyard, in her "coin flip" odds, noted that Logan actually offered the job to his daughter before getting cold feet because of her lack of experience.
However, the second time we asked Bard the question, it came back with a more neutral response. It didn't highlight a specific character, instead discussing the pros and cons of each Roy. This time, Bard noted that Kendall is "the most qualified," while Shiv is "the most ambitious but also the most ruthless." Roman gets labeled as "the most creative but also those most immature."
And then, Bard brings up other options for succeeding Logan, including his wife Marcia, which ... what??? No, Bard: be sensible.
Bing's answer is useless
At least the other chatbots came back with an answer, even if it was somewhat equivocating. Bing responded, "I'm sorry but I can't find any information about who will take over in Succession season 4. However, according to a theory by Looper, Season 4 will end with Logan's downfall and reveal who succeeds him and takes over Waystar Royco."
So incisive, so illuminating. Can Bing detect sarcasm?
Boar on the floor!
Outlook: Chatbots can't analyze TV shows well
AI chatbots have a lot going for them but talking about TV shows isn't one of them. We got similar results when we tried to get ChatGPT and Bing to pitch ideas for another season of our favorite cancelled shows. That and various other tests run on Tom's Guide have provided reassurance that AI won't steal our jobs anytime soon.
As for my opinion on who will take over on Succession, I'm going to say it's Kendall. The show is clearly based on the Murdoch family, the current heir apparent to Rupert Murdoch is his eldest son Lachlan. Though Kendall isn't technically Logan's eldest son, he's the eldest son with an actual shot (poor Connor). Art will imitate life, and give the crown to the Number One Boy.