Sen. Sherrod Brown Has Some Thoughts About ‘Succession’

On the night of January 3, Connie Schultz, the Pulitzer-winning syndicated columnist and writer, was attempting to observe HBO’s Succession, however she stored having to pause it as a result of one thing reminded her husband of his work. “I’m watching #Succession with the chairman of the Senate banking committee,” Schultz knowledgeable her quarter-million Twitter followers, “and holy cannoli the continuing commentary.”

Neither Schultz nor the husband in query, Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, can recall precisely which episode moved her to compose the tweet, which has now been favored practically 24,000 instances. Each imagine it was someday in Season 2—fairly presumably one of many episodes wherein a curly-haired liberal senator hauls members of the Roy household in entrance of a Senate committee, about which Brown, a curly-haired liberal, recollects having quite a bit to say. TIME caught up with Brown this week for a Zoom interview about his tackle the present and its coverage implications. (Warning: this piece is chock-full of spoilers.)
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The present facilities on the enterprise dealings of the rich Roy household and their fictional New York Metropolis-based firm, Waystar Royco. Washington enters the image on the finish of Season 2, when Cousin Greg, performed by Nicholas Braun, struggles to elucidate to lawmakers his actions overlaying up rampant misconduct on the corporate’s cruise strains. However after that, the senators and committee are by no means seen once more. Brown believes an precise Senate listening to would have produced extra outcomes. Greg “would have been the one from that congressional listening to that they might not have let go,” Brown says. “Even pro-corporate Republican senators, who at all times let company pursuits dictate their actions—their legislative actions and different political actions—he wouldn’t have gotten away with that. So the half that I knew greatest, the congressional listening to, was not as true to life as maybe it might have been.”

However Brown typically believes the present to be fairly sensible, notably its depiction of wealthy folks behaving badly and by no means seeming to face any penalties. “It doesn’t matter what they do, it doesn’t matter what mistake that may have an effect on the remainder of us may occur, they by no means pay a worth for it, and no guidelines apply to them,” he says. “And it’s fairly disheartening when you concentrate on folks like that, which have a lot affect on our economic system and on our authorities. What’s distressing about it’s the energy that individuals like which have the place I work, and on Wall Road, and that the voters proceed to permit these varieties of individuals to have that form of energy in their very own lives.”

Regardless of the superficial resemblance, Brown, like most watchers, thinks Sen. Gil Eavis, performed by Eric Bogosian, is extra seemingly primarily based on Sen. Bernie Sanders. “I favored how he took on the Roy household,” Brown says of Eavis, “however he didn’t appear as real doing it as my colleague Bernie is, frankly.”

Brown and Schultz watch TV of their household room in Cleveland, the place they’ve matching leather-based recliners (“so dorky,” she says), however throughout Succession she likes to sit down on a sofa to the aspect as a substitute so she will see his face. Brown makes the popcorn, which he likes with butter and Schultz likes to high with yeast. Their two rescue canine, Franklin and Walter, wander out and in of the room. Amid a difficult few years within the Senate, “I’m at all times attempting to give you distractions for him,” she says. However his thoughts isn’t removed from his job. “So usually he’ll say, ‘Cease for a second,’ as a result of he has to inform me who it reminds him of, or ‘I forgot to inform you this factor that occurred this week in committee hearings.’”

The episodes that stand out to Brown are those the place working folks develop into victims of the Roys’ heartless greed: the Season 1 finale, wherein drug-addicted wastrel son Kendall Roy abandons a waiter to drown; the Season 2 finale, wherein an organization report categorizes the deaths of lowly cruise-line staff as “No Actual Particular person Concerned.” “The ‘No Actual Particular person Concerned’ was nearly anyone who was powerless, notably folks that didn’t seem like them,” Brown says. “The individuals who serve them every single day, the folks that work at their Disney form of park, the individuals who employees their cruises, are thrown, actually thrown into the ocean, they usually didn’t assume twice about it. These are simply not actual folks to them as a result of they’re not wealthy, as a result of they’re not highly effective.”

Brown doesn’t imagine all wealthy individuals are unhealthy—in any case, he factors out, a few of them are Democrats—however he advocates insurance policies that may make them pay extra in taxes, have much less political affect and deal with their staff extra humanely. “We’ve seen the wealthiest folks on this nation get richer and richer and richer,” he says. “And we’ve seen inventory costs go up, income go up, government compensation stratospheric, but wages have remained flat. That’s the way in which the Roy household needs it. That’s the way in which the, I don’t imply to be partisan, however the 50 Republicans within the Senate need it. That’s the way in which that the folks that have far an excessive amount of affect on this nation need it and the lobbyists that at all times hover across the Capitol need it. Nevertheless it’s not what this nation ought to have.”

Schultz drew the same parallel. “About two episodes in, it instantly occurred to me, ‘You recognize, honey, these are the Republican donors,’” Schultz recollects. “These are the folks funding the people who find themselves combating you on all the things within the Senate.”

If the present is so depressing, why watch it? Brown admits to a sure morbid fascination, and in addition he admires the appearing—he’s keen on Brian Cox, who performs the patriarch Logan Roy, whereas Schultz is a fan of J. Smith-Cameron, who performs the mercenary government Gerri Kellman. Schultz has a distinct clarification of the present’s attraction. “It’s by no means escapist,” she says. “However I keep in mind what I used to say when my buddies had been stunned I favored The Sopranos: It’s all of the revenge I can’t get in actual life. I stated, ‘If nothing else, honey, we will really feel actually good about our household in comparison with this.’” There might not be any justice, however a minimum of on tv, the common people get to observe the wealthy endure as a substitute of the opposite approach round.


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