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Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes Gave Us Fox. These Shows Try to Make Sense of It All.


He says all this over a dinner that includes ortolan, a songbird crunched up, bones, head and all, under the veil of a towel, to hide the act from God. (There was an ortolan feast in “Billions” too — it’s the national bird of late capitalism.) It’s a meal whose savor is its transgressiveness, whose consumption involves a ritual of shame — albeit a vestigial one, since in this world, if you can feel the shame, you can’t afford the dinner.

Beyond the vicious humor and cruelty signaling, it’s the generational dynamics of “Succession” that feel most current. It’s the story of an aging, reactionary ruler refusing to let go even as his body and mental faculties nudge him, as if he were juiced up with cultural Viagra.

Over the first season, Logan’s practical-minded son, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), led a failed coup against him. In the season finale, Kendall, having killed his passenger in a reckless car accident, crawls back to Logan, who takes him back, cooing, “You’re my boy, you’re my No. 1 boy.”

It’s a chilling reverse-Oedipal moment; you can practically see Logan draw strength vampirically from his son’s diminution. Kendall is his boy, and he remains the man — his voice, his values, his way of seeing the world will not yield.

Does that make the Roys, and Waystar Royco, a stand-in for Fox? Maybe. Or maybe “fox” is the wrong zoological metaphor. Men like Logan Roy — like Roger Ailes, like Rupert Murdoch — see themselves as lions. And a lion will roar, in his youth, in his dotage and long after he is buried.



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