The 10 Best TV Shows like Succession: Come on, there’s nothing like Succession; you and I both know that. The Jesse Armstrong-created family drama dipped in dark comedy debuted back in 2018 and ascended to the top of the ladder in a post-Breaking Bad-Game of Thrones world. I have a tendency to use the term “razor-sharp” a bit too much, but for a show like Succession, it really fits. Sometimes I feel the show is particularly designed to tickle our bones while giving us anxiety attacks and boy-o-boy; we have literally gobbled it very happily from the opening minute. Every member of the Roy family is miserable, and so are our lives; probably why it is particularly fun to watch.
But like every great party comes to an end, the Roy family is finally closing their shop in May 2023, and we are all contemplating how to go on with our lives post that, at least I am. That is why you all are here, and I intend to find something for you to help you fill at least some of the enormous void which is coming your way.
There is nothing like Succession, of course, as I don’t recall feeling this many emotions altogether while watching, and I have watched quite a lot of stuff. But certain aspects of the show can actually be found in other things from time to time. Like just the latest episode reminded me of an episode of The Office (US), even though that show is absolutely not similar to Succession. Keeping all that in mind, I am gonna take a swing and come up with a list consisting of both obvious choices and elements of surprises, hoping you will be able to find something for yourself.
Here we go.
Starting with probably the most obvious choice, some people actually describe “Billions” as “Succession, but with Paul Giamatti,” which I don’t really agree with. But Paul Giamatti is awesome in anything he does, and Billions is literally the smartest stupid show on Television right now, as described by The Guardian in an article back in 2019, which is still very much valid.
An antithesis of shows like Mad Man or Breaking Bad, where the story and the character’s arc are slowly built-up before the explosion for which we all patiently keep waiting, Billions doesn’t take any breather and goes all guns blazing from its opening minute. It does come with the “prestige television” tag for being a product of Showtime Network, but it is definitely more pulp than prestige, and that is exactly what works in favor of the show.
Of course, having actors like Giamatti, the enigmatic Damian Lewis, who plays Giamatti’s rival, aka the most popular character in the show, and the brilliant Maggie Siff, aka Dr. Tara Knowles from “Sons of Anarchy” who plays Lewis’s Psychiatrist and Giamatti’s BDSM-enthusiast dominatrix wife in the show. Do I need to continue any further?
9. The White Lotus
Any member of the Roy family, including Cousin Greg, can as well be “The White Lotus” character. The HBO phenomenon that has been successfully turning miserable rich people’s vacations into delicious nightmares for the audience does not have contextual similarities with Succession but can very well be termed as something cut from the same cloth. Especially the writing bears a stark resemblance to the darkly comic tone of Succession.
Headlined by a breakout Murray Bartlett performance as a resort manager, the Hawaii-based first season is more like a vacation-themed Succession episode featuring rich white people tussling with money, jealousy, and first-world problems while “vacationing.” The more layered, Sicily-based sophomore season puts you in an anxiety-filled broiler more often than not, which must be familiar given you voluntarily subject yourself to that in literally every single Succession episode. Season 2 also has a fascinating Aubrey Plaza performance. The real star of the show is, of course, the legendary Jennifer Coolidge, who is the only prominent character to feature in both seasons and pretty much owns everyone.
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8. The Righteous Gemstones
In The Righteous Gemstones, three dysfunctional siblings, Jesse, Judy, and Kevin, pretty much live off their father Eli’s money, thanks to their huge Church Empire. The family of televangelists can give the Roy family a run for their money if the two are pitted against each other in a contest of dysfunctionality. Not to mention, like most wealthy TV families, the Gemstones family is a minefield of corruption, given the fact that exploitation of humans in the name of god is basically what they do.
Watching things unfolding is obviously an extremely rewarding and essentially hilarious experience; you can be sure of that. The relatively less popular HBO show can also boast of an excellent cast, headed by none other than John Goodman, who plays the patriarch Eli Gemstone. The eldest sibling, Jesse, is played by Danny McBride, who doesn’t need any introduction. Knives Out (2019) breakout star Edi Patterson plays Judi, the middle child, while Adam DeVine, whose credits include the Pitch Perfect movies as well as the hugely-successful Modern Family (2009-2020), plays the youngest Kevin. The show also has names like Steve Zahn, Walton Goggins, and even someone like Macaulay Culkin.
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Imagine Succession on a network like CW, and what you have is Dynasty. Another show that has a huge business empire and an obvious question regarding who’s gonna take over it from Blake Carrington, a father who is relatively better than Logan Roy. Unlike Succession, where we still don’t know “who’s or if everyone even gonna succeed Logan Roy, Dynasty makes it pretty clear from the beginning that the reign of the Carrington empire is going to fall in the hands of Blake’s daughter Fallon, the proverbial lead of the show. However, that does not make Dynasty, which is a reboot of an eighties show of the same name, any less appealing as it thrives on the soapy melodrama and flashy twists.
I admire the fact that the show doesn’t give two fucks about getting critical acclaim or award love and doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t, which is an utterly delicious, greasy deep-fried snack. The primary agenda of the show is to serve as your guilty pleasure, and it successfully does that. What you wouldn’t get from Dynasty is the Succession/HBO-like production value, great writing, and sharp humor, but you would still get hooked thanks to its purposefully ludicrous storylines that include things like plastic surgery as casually as buying a bag of chips from the supermarket and infectious drama between the characters. Also, the acting in the show, especially of Elizabeth Gillies, who plays Fallon, is surprisingly top-notch.
6. American Vandal
I doubt if you would find American Vandal in any other “shows like Succession” list, but I promised you elements of surprises, didn’t I? Hear me out, if Succession characters were TV shows, then American Vandal would be Romulus Roy for sure. The infamous Netflix show, which made a lot of headlines when a clip from its second season got viral, and people took it as “something real” instead of fictional, can very well be the unlikely thing to save your life after Succession is over.
I have enough reason to put this brilliant little show here. For starters, the show brings in the same kind of humor that Roman Roy brings into Succession, except American Vandal is extremely aware and knows what it’s doing. The mockumentary makes something like vandalizing cars with phallic images an exciting, unputdownable investigation story in the first season, all thanks to its fantastic writing and editing. The real deal, in my opinion, is, of course, the second season, notoriously known as the “Turd burglar” season, which follows a planned food poisoning episode (and the inevitably “shitty” consequences) at a prestigious private Catholic High school.
Probably the only downside of American Vandal is only having two seasons, as it got axed by Netflix, most likely because of being a product from an outside studio. So the solace you will find after Succession will probably be over in a day or two, given the show is highly binge-worthy, but I promise it will be worth it.
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5. House of the Dragon
I could have suggested Game of Thrones, but the spin-off prequel is snappier, leaner, and definitely more in sync with the tone of Succession compared to the OG show. Also, I doubt if, at this point, there is anybody who hasn’t seen Game of Thrones at some point in their life. Succession, of course, is literally Game of Thrones but set in our world and better (my sincere apologies to all you GOT fans, but it really is).
Coming to House of the Dragon, the show has rightfully claimed its throne as the ideal successor of Game of Thrones and has all the potential to top it. There has only been one season, but thanks to its hyper-active storytelling, it has already covered a lot of stories, and many years have gone by over the course of ten episodes. The lightspeed-like pace has been an issue for some viewers, but since you have come here after watching something like Succession, that should not be a problem for you. In case you haven’t joined the bandwagon yet because of obvious skepticism, thanks to the horrendous final season of the Mother show, I hope these two paragraphs are enough to give you the necessary push.
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4. The Crown
Peter Morgan’s take on the British monarchy is essentially the most iconic real-life succession story. Especially now that we can actually put the word “King” in front of Charles’ name, the relevance of the show is probably more than ever. The very expensive Netflix series has the now-deceased Queen Elizabeth as its focal point, where they have rightfully used three separate sets of actors to play the same characters in three different eras. But thanks to its fantastic writing and gold-star-level performance of literally every single actor, the shifts between the eras have never been jarring for the audience.
What I really like about the show is that despite having a subject that is “very much public” as its source content, it chooses not to rely on melodrama. In fact, the storytelling approach of The Crown has always been extremely measured and sincere. The result is an extremely compelling show which is very much worth watching from the start. To be totally honest here, I don’t expect you to get hooked to the show from its very first minute like what happened with Succession; but with a little bit of time invested, you are going to feel like being a part of that “royal” world.
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3. Sons of Anarchy
This is by far the farthest reach. On first thought, you probably wouldn’t find any similarities between the worlds of a media empire and an outlaw motorcycle club. But Sons of Anarchy is essentially a story of succession, as well as a family, and the drama around it is as exciting as “Succession.”
The term “Shakespearian” can very well be used to describe Sons of Anarchy, given it is a spiritual adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. At the center of it is this biker, Jax Teller (played by Charlie Hunnam), who would surely go down as one of the most iconic lead characters in post-2000 Television history, aka what we consider the golden era. The same goes for Jax’s loving but psychotic mother Jemma (played by Katey Sagal) and his father’s friend Clay (played by the already legendary Ron Pearlman), who sits on the throne at the beginning of the show, which originally belonged to Jax’s dead father John. I guess you are getting the hang of it by now and also considering not labeling me crazy for putting Sons of Anarchy here.
The biker-gang drama also stars Maggie Siff as Jax’s girlfriend and later wife, hard-ass Doctor Tara Knowles, whom I mentioned earlier while writing about Billions. Despite being seven seasons long, the show continues to keep you hooked to it till the very end thanks to great acting performances, mostly brilliant writing which keeps introducing nail-biting story arcs and exciting conflicts one after another, an iconic soundtrack (maybe the best ever in any show and I’m not kidding) and most importantly, creator Kurt Sutter’s (who also plays a fascinating little character in the show) vision. The final season lacks the energy a little but makes it up by delivering what I consider one of the greatest ever TV series finales.
2. The Office
Even if you haven’t watched the show, I’m sure you have heard of it or may have even come across a “Jim pranking Dwight” video, given there are millions of those available on every corner of the internet. A rarest of rare examples of a worthy (and I dare say better) American remake of a British show (that one is great, of course), The Office is certainly more than just a hilarious sitcom. In fact, its pop-culture phenomena stature puts it ahead of evening else on this list, at least in terms of popularity. The primary and only relation between “The Office” and “Succession” is the particular kind of anxiety-induced humor which you love so much, which only makes The Office a natural follow-up choice once Succession ends.
I can probably write a million words about the show and why you should watch it if you haven’t watched it already but let’s just say The Office is a show for everyone and every life/work situation. And if I really have to give you one particular reason to watch the show, then the name “Michael Scott” is good enough, I guess.
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1. Arrested Development
If there’s any TV father that can actually be worse than Logan Roy, then it has to be George Bluth. At least in Succession, the Roy kids know what Logan is, and their father doesn’t try to hide his real self either. But the Bluth children are so unfortunate that they don’t even understand what a menace their father (and mother as well) is. Of course, Jason Bateman’s Michael Bluth, the de-facto lead of the show, is aware of everything, but the character lives in a lot of denials.
Arrested Development is the first show that came to my mind when I thought about shows like Succession after taking this assignment. The similarities between the two shows are pretty much obvious; terrible businessman father – check, goofy older brother – check; the male middle child who wants to have a crack at running the empire but keeps failing to do so- check; the female middle child who wants to prove her worth and also has a strange husband – check. There is not much in common between Roman Roy and the youngest of Bluth, Buster, but then again, both are the epitome of different kinds of weirdness.
The long-running Arrested Development is most definitely the most Succession show; even the show creator, Jesse Armstrong, acknowledges the similarities between the Bluth and Roy family, although that’s purely a coincidence as Armstrong hasn’t seen Arrested Development. Guess all dysfunctional and rich families are cut from the same cloth.