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I finally watched this HBO Max show — and you need to try it

The HBO Max logo on a phone on top of a keyboard
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

In the world of streaming what’s new always takes the spotlight. The best streaming services — such as HBO Max, Netflix and Disney Plus — are constantly highlighting the new shows and movies that have been added to their respective libraries. But what about the shows that they've long-since debuted?

While I enjoy binging the latest must-see show or number one movie as much as the next person, the past few weeks have been a stark reminder that sometimes it’s important to take a step back and dive into a streaming service’s back catalog. Just because a show isn’t currently dominating social media conversation doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. Far from it.

Case in point, over the past few weeks I’ve been catching up with the comedy-drama series Succession and I’m absolutely kicking myself for not starting this remarkable show sooner. The first three seasons of the show are available via HBO Max, and if you’ve not seen it yet, I implore you to pause what you're watching and start this show now. You won’t regret it. 

Looking for something new? Here's the best new show to watch this week — and it's also on HBO Max. 

And speaking of streaming, one of my colleagues explained why this is not the time to cancel Apple TV Plus. Plus, if you're hyped for the next seasons of Stranger Things and Umbrella Academy, mark your calendars for Netflix Geeked Week 2022, which looks to deliver first looks at those and other big shows and movies.

Succession is masterful television 

Sarah Snook, Jeremy Strong, Alan Ruck, Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen, Brian Cox and Kieran Culkin in the post for Succession

(Image credit: HBO)

If you’ve somehow not heard the elevator pitch for Succession, it primarily centers on the Roy family — whom are loosely based on the Murdochs. The Roys are the owners of Waystar RoyCo, a fictional media and entertainment conglomerate, and are about as dysfunctional as a group can be. 

What’s really remarkable about Succession isn’t just the strong performances, but the quality of the writing. In fact, Succession manages to measure up to the likes of The West Wing.

The family’s patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) leads with an iron grip, but the show kicks off with uncertainty about his health and the question of who will be his successor is the driving force for much of the first and second seasons. Cox is marvelous in the role, delivering loud and boisterous insults and curses left and right, but there are strong performances across the cast. Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook as three Logan's children all equally fantastic. Each of the three has arguably been the center of one season, which has helped Succession stay fresh.

Strong’s character of Kendall in particular is a real standout. He struggles with feelings of inadequacy and desperately wants to prove himself worthy of being Logan’s heir, and he's also grappling with drug addiction. Culkin’s Roman is very much the comic relief character, and what a darkly comedic hoot he is. Not to mention, Snook’s Shiv has a pretty interesting arc of her own that I won’t delve into here for fear of spoilers. 

What’s really remarkable about Succession isn’t just the strong performances, but the quality of the writing. In fact, Succession even manages to measure up to the likes of The West Wing and other top flight dramas that are beloved for their banter. Each episode features dozens of laser-sharp dialogue exchanges, and is filled to the brim with biting satire of our current media and political climate. 

Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook and Matthew Macfayden in Succession season 3 episode 5

(Image credit: HBO)

Succession isn’t just a collection of references and thin-veiled swipes at real-life media/entertainment companies though. It’s also got plenty of human moments, Kendall’s story in particular is brilliantly tragic. Succession is a rare show that is both outrageously comedic but also grounded by its brilliant cast of core characters. I’ve not even mentioned the duo of Shiv's husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) and cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), who develop a hilariously twisted mentor/mentee relationship. 

If my words haven’t convinced you to give Succession a shot, then just look at its critical reception and bursting awards cabinet. On Rotten Tomatoes the show is rated 94% and it’s won a whole host of awards including an Emmy for Outstanding Drama and a Golden Globe for Best Television Series Drama. Frankly, with a reputation this strong, I have no idea what I was thinking waiting so long to dive in.  

Succession taught me a valuable lesson 

Recommending Succession right now might seem odd. After all, the show is currently in-between seasons, and its quality is hardly a well-kept secret. However, watching Succession over the past few weeks has taught me a valuable lesson: Don’t forget to dive deeper into streaming libraries. 

I’ve really enjoyed discovering the first three seasons when the Succession conversation has moved on. It feels like finding a hidden gem all by myself.

Like many people, I'm guilty of constantly chasing the next big thing in streaming. When I’m stuck on what to watch next my first response is usually to jump straight into the what’s new section or see what’s trending on social media. However, if you dig into a service’s library you might just find something of higher quality that you missed the first time around. Just because a show is no longer ranking top of the most watch list doesn’t mean it’s not still worth watching.

Succession will be returning for a fourth season this year, and I look forward to watching it along with everyone else. But I’ve also really enjoyed discovering the first three seasons when the conversation has moved on. Even with all its previous recognition, it's felt sort of like finding a hidden gem all by myself. 

Once I’m all caught up with the Roys instead of jumping straight into whatever new HBO Max or Netflix show is trending, I might return to the streaming archives and see what other hits from the past I missed. I hear a little show called The Sopranos is worth a shot. 

Rory Mellon

Rory is a Deals Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on deals, gaming and streaming. When he’s not scouring retailers for PS5 restock or writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found attending music festivals and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.