May 30 • 1HR 9M

The Cuttlefish Strategy

Me and Rob Henderson on the Succession Finale

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Richard Hanania
Connected to the Richard Hanania Substack. Discussions with Chris Nicholson on war, Rob Henderson on movies, TV shows, and culture, and more.
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Rob joins me to wrap up Succession (spoilers below).

We both sort of predicted Tom’s triumph, as did many other people. The ultimate lapdog ends up with the company, his marriage, and a pregnant wife. I bring up how Tom’s career and personal life remind me of the male cuttlefish that disguises itself as a female, and therefore non-threatening, in order to find mating opportunities. There’s an equivalent in humans among beta males, and in this case the strategy worked for Tom.

Cuttlefish displaying male pattern on one side and female pattern on the other. Source.

While I had been expecting a feminist ending, we actually got the opposite. Shiv has lived her life in the shadow of one man, and went and married a guy who she thought she could walk all over, but he now has the upper hand in the relationship. I say that this is in part because she’s now pregnant, but Rob argues that it’s actually Tom who may be trapped by the baby. There’s a lot here about gender dynamics and how pregnancy influences the balance of power between the sexes.

I was so glad to see that we finally got an answer on Kendall’s kids. As you may remember from previous discussions, this has been a constant obsession of mine, and the truth came out in the most satisfying way possible.

Rob and I wonder the extent to which the Roy children were the authors of their own misery. People like to blame parents for how kids turn out, due to a bias toward blank slatism, but in the end Logan was right that they weren’t serious people, and one can’t just assume he made them that way. My suspicion is that he would’ve liked to find a suitable heir, but he simply didn’t have one. Rob puts forth the possibility that perhaps, as Bryan Cox said, Logan’s problem was that he loved his kids too much.

We close by discussing Succession’s legacy and how it compares to other classic shows. To me, it’s really hard to do something this timely this well, and I suspect people will be watching this show generations from now for insights into our crazy political era — everything from violence in the streets, to disputed elections, right-wing populism, and what social media and the 24-hour news cycle have done to our brains.

You can listen to the show here, or watch on YouTube.


Rob’s Substack essay on the finale

Me and Rob on Succession: S1-S3, S4:E1, S4: Ep 2-4, and S4: Ep 5-9

On cuttlefish

Interview with Bryan Cox