Insults in Succession are a microcosm of the dark comedy culture the TV show creates. Some are hilarious, others are devastatingly cruel, lots are both. But they are enmeshed in the fabric of the show and the characters complex relationships to each other.
Most of the characters in Succession do not have the time, desire, or emotional intelligence to hash out their feelings relationships besides their obvious roles (dad, brother, boss, husband… blah blah blah). So the insults of Succession serve as a unique view into complex emotions between characters (Because we all saw how the therapy went, “FAMILY THERAPY…FAMILY THERAPY…)
“Fuck you, you pusillanimous piece of fucking fool’s gold. Fucking silver spoon fucking asshole”- Stewy (S02 E01)To Kendall the first time they see each other after he backs out of the takeover.
I’m starting with one of my favorites. This insult blends the blind rage of someone who both throws ‘fuck’ after every word and has the presence of mind to use the word ‘pusillanimous,’ which is an all-time insult word- just meant to be thrown at people like mud. Overall, it is a fair representation of the uncontrolled rage Stewy felt in this moment, his understated intelligence, and the complete disdain he has for Kendall, who is now as low on the respect totem-pole as possible. Also, anytime I need a dictionary to understand an insult- that’s a good insult.
“You lump of fucking tur-duck-en.”- Tom (S01 E04)To Greg after he thinks Greg told Gerri about Tom’s press conference ambitions.
Tom is a prime example of someone who says stuff that feels right even if the words don’t quite fit the moment. Therefore, don’t think about this too much. A lump of fucking tur-duck-en does not hold a ton of gravity if taken literally, but the sound and feel of it works. The rage behind those hard consonants cannot be denied, so the point is effective if non-sensical.
“You… are… a… fucking… idiot”- Logan (S01 E03)To Kendall, fighting through speech impediments due to having a stroke.
Not the most inventive insult, but any time you fight like hell to say something through partial facial paralysis due to a stroke, the words have weight. If anything, the simplicity of the insult in the face of that much effort adds a level of meaning to the words. Logan casually, in full health, calling Kendall a fucking idiot- no big deal. Logan calling Kendall a fucking idiot even though he can’t talk- probably makes him wonder if he’s actually a fucking idiot.
“At least I’m only getting fucked by one member of this family.”- Willa (S01 E05)To Tom after he makes fun of her for her new ‘arrangements’ with Connor.
Willa, up to this point, appeared to be the clueless hooker that was never supposed to be in any of the places she was invited by Connor, all while sponging massive amounts of money off of him because he was the only person more clueless than her. That was only mostly correct. But no one told Tom. And Tom finally saw someone that was one rung lower than him on the insult ladder (other than Greg), and he took his shot by prodding her about her ‘arrangements.’ But, in a flash, Willa retorts with this ‘too true’ to be funny insult, massacring Tom and revealing a bit of her true self- she is not as clueless as Tom thought.
“They call Gil meth-head Santa because he so rarely delivers.”- Hugo (S02 E09)Announcing the spin they are putting on the Congressional hearing led by Gil Eavis.
Clever points- ONE THOUSAND. Hugo was a nice addition to season two. He came out of nowhere and delivered (unlike Eavis). This was one of his better lines, delivered with the factualness of a PR guy. Devoid of any malice. Nothing to see here. Just doing his job
“Everyone thinks you’re a joke.”- Logan (S02 E10)To Connor about his Presidential run.
He’s not wrong, but therein is the heat behind this insult. Connor is the guy everyone let’s do his own thing because he doesn’t have the heart to make it in their business world. And it’s okay, because he is mostly harmless and well-meaning. He is also socially and intellectually isolated from the rest of the world (which is why he thinks he can run for president), so when Logan tells him everyone thinks he’s a joke, Connor didn’t know. And his personal bubble was burst in a pretty cold and heartless way by the man Connor looks to as a personal god.
“Sometimes when you were absent, they would refer to you as the calamari cock-ring.”- Frank (S01 E09)Explaining to Kendall how the Canadians feel about him.
Frank was the perfect character to explain this particular insult to Kendall. Frank stays clear of the mudslinging and is one of the more positive and friendly men in the land of the Roys. So as he dutifully does his job by responding to Kendall’s question, while sheepishly mitigating the impact of the comment by saying he doesn’t even know what it means, he accidentally adds to the insult by limply trying to protect Kendall from an obvious slight. Kendall wouldn’t have it though, telling him the insult was pretty clear, “I think it means they think of me as a cock-ring…made out of calamari.” I think that’s about right.
“What’s up Kendall? Mix me up with your sponsor?”- Lawrence (S01 E02)Answering Kendall’s call in the middle of the night.
Lawrence either had this one stored away for later usage, or he is one quick mother fucker. Because he woke up from a REM cycle and opened the convo with this barn burner. There’s some genuine enmity between two people when casual greetings are about life-ruining addiction.
“You made a playground and you considered it the whole world.”- Marcia (S01 E09)To Shiv on her wedding day.
Marcia spent the first season making us wonder what she was up to and hoping someone would lay into her for her meddling. As Shiv put it, “Have you ever eaten a grapefruit without an agenda?” (not a bad insult all by itself). But Marcia defied all comeuppance and ultimately won the hate-off between her and Shiv by holding back for just a sec after a confrontation between Shiv and Logan. Shiv looked like she was golden, finally telling off the two who had been giving her so much trouble all season when Marcia slid this insult like a dagger between her ribcage. And oh yeah, she calls her a slut… on her wedding day. Marcia is continually underestimated in her ruthlessness.
“I look at your face and, no offense, I see dead babies.”- Connor (S01 E10)To Senator Gil Eavis when Connor sees him at Shiv’s wedding.
In Connor’s mind no one can meet him on the battlefield of political rhetoric. And that is what makes him unbeatable. His attacks come fast, furious, and out of nowhere and they don’t need any context or logic. This is one example of that randomness. Only Con would rapid-fire an insult like this into the face of a senator at his sister’s wedding and add a kind ‘no offense’ in the middle, just in case Gil were to be put-off by the railroading. But chalk this up as a win for the Conservatives of America. Gil had no response, and I can’t imagine any other liberal would either.
“You’re curdled cream.”- Logan (S01 E10)To Kendall as his siblings confront him about the bear hug.
Listen, I am not even totally sure what Logan is getting at here, but I love this insult and this sentence so much. The imagery is strong, it feels good coming off the tongue, and its uniqueness adds an extra layer of salt to the wound. Logan didn’t reach for the nearest insult. He called him a hot house flower, which is unique but has been done, and then ended with this insult that no one has ever heard, implying Kendall’s time is up. He’s no good. Time to throw him out with the trash. Kendall got back a little bit by retorting, “You’re a beast,” which is strong, and also gives the moment a Shakespearian air, but there is no coming back from the depth, complexity, and emotion of Logan’s insult.
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