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Behind the Scenes Succession's Election Night Exposes the Inner Workings of Cable News

  • Posted on May 15, 2023
  • News
  • By Navya Shrivastava
  • 372 Views
Titled "America Decides," the eighth episode of Succession's final season delves into the electrifying atmosphere of election night at ATN

Titled "America Decides," the eighth episode of Succession's final season delves into the electrifying atmosphere of election night at ATN. The episode aptly captures the essence of this pivotal moment with its hokey slogan, reminiscent of what one would expect on a prominent news network as the votes are tallied. The episode vividly portrays the essence of democracy in action, as millions of Americans exercise their right to vote, making their voices heard in the process.

Succession cleverly challenges the notion of voter influence by asserting that it is the Roys, not the electorate, who hold the power. In this particular episode, the scions of a notorious media mogul take center stage in the ATN newsroom, actively shaping the narrative and influencing the nation's perception of its desired leader. While Succession typically employs subtlety in drawing parallels to real-life events, this episode boldly showcases the similarities.

ATN, serving as a representation of Fox News, skillfully stirs up distrust surrounding the election process while manipulating the results to align with the Roy siblings' agenda. Consequences become irrelevant as they prioritize their own interests, regardless of the potential repercussions that may arise from prematurely declaring a state for a particular candidate.

The election depicted in Succession, featuring ultra-right Republican candidate Jeryd Mencken (played by Justin Kirk), Democrat Daniel Jiménez (played by Elliot Villar),
In the eighth episode of Succession’s final season, a tight presidential election sows confusion and chaos. (Macall Polay/HBO) 


The election depicted in Succession, featuring ultra-right Republican candidate Jeryd Mencken

(played by Justin Kirk), Democrat Daniel Jiménez (played by Elliot Villar), and even Connor Roy (played by Alan Ruck), mirrors the intense and divisive nature of recent US presidential elections. The episode portrays a turbulent atmosphere with an undercurrent of civil unrest and violence. Scenes unfold with protesters clashing, while allegations of voter fraud circulate incessantly. The tension escalates further when a vote counting center in Wisconsin is deliberately set ablaze, resulting in the destruction of crucial absentee ballots.

The spotlight falls on Georgia and Arizona as highly contested states, where the vote margin is exceptionally narrow, intensifying the drama surrounding the election.

Ultimately, in a surprising turn of events, Kendall (played by Jeremy Strong) and Roman (played by Kieran Culkin), with a significant contribution from Tom (played by Matthew Macfadyen), effectively handpick Mencken as the presumed president. Their decision is motivated by Mencken's promise to assist them in preventing the sale of Waystar to GoJo, aligning with the desires of the two CEOs. ATN lends its support to Mencken, bolstering his public image as the victor. Whether Mencken actually received more votes than Jimenez is left uncertain and becomes inconsequential. The focus shifts away from the electoral outcome, prompting the question: Does it even matter?

The concept of a media executive personally selecting a winner has become less surprising in recent times. A notable defamation lawsuit settlement by Fox News, totaling $787 million, unveiled the direct involvement of Rupert Murdoch in influencing network decisions during the 2020 election. Text messages disclosed during the lawsuit exposed a pattern of deliberate misinformation, as the network knowingly permitted guests to propagate falsehoods regarding election fraud. However, what is truly alarming in Succession is the glaring incompetence of those in positions of power.


Succession cleverly challenges the notion of voter influence by asserting that it is the Roys, not the electorate, who hold the power. I
(Image Credit:HBO)


They are ill-equipped to make informed judgments on how electoral votes should be counted and handled, highlighting a stark contrast to the expertise and integrity that should ideally guide such crucial decisions.

The decisions made by the Roy siblings lack a solid foundation of well-reasoned strategy, even if driven by Machiavellian motivations. Instead, they engage in pitiful squabbles, each vying for a preferred president based solely on how it would enhance their own image and personal interests. They feign concern for truth, democracy, and virtue, but their pretense is flimsy at best. What is perhaps most disheartening is their tendency to wield significant power while conveniently disavowing any responsibility for it when it suits their convenience. This displays a leadership style that is utterly inept and lacking in substance.

If viewed from a slightly altered perspective, "America Decides" could resemble a farcical comedy of mishaps, much like the overall tone of the series. With a change in tone, substituting Nicholas Britell's poignant score for a wry narrator, the show could easily transform into something akin to Arrested Development, another series centered around a wealthy and dysfunctional family relentlessly undermining one another. However, Succession maintains a more tragic essence than comedic, primarily due to its world and characters steeped in a darkly cynical nature. These individuals lack any genuine principles or convictions, merely existing as hollow vessels of ambition driven solely by deep-seated resentment.

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Navya Shrivastava

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