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Where does Succession rank among the greatest shows to have aired on HBO?
That’s where the discussion should head at the conclusion of the final season in May.
The drama series epitomizes much of what has made HBO the gold standard of television for nearly three decades: witty writing, singular character development, and gripping suspense.
The list of shows definitively superior is hardly of length. But there is a list, nonetheless.
We start with The Sopranos and The Wire. Most critics rank said titles 1 and 2 in some order in the pantheon of television.
There would be no Succession without The Sopranos or The Wire.
Though perhaps its finale will be met with more immediate acclaim than the ending of The Sopranos, which viewers didn’t come to appreciate until years later.
The line for HBO superiority starts at No. 3.
But at No. 3, we find Game of Thrones, HBO’s most successful phenomenon to date.
Game of Thrones was an event, one on par with marquee football matchups. Podcasts recapping episodes emerged as a genre of their own.
Thrones was discussed as if it were part of the daily news — be it at the coffee shop, the bar, or out in the open on social media.
And while popularity doesn’t equate to quality, Game of Thrones established itself as the best show on television for much of its 11-year reign.
Thrones could have challenged the likes of The Wire if not for a truncated, disorientated final two seasons.
- The Sopranos
- The Wire
- Game of Thrones
So is Succession fourth?
The Leftovers never garnered the attention of the other flagship HBO series. But that is to no fault of its own.
The series tells the events of a “Sudden Departure” that resulted in 2 percent of the world’s population disappearing.
Show creator Damon Lindelof (of Lost fame) blends faith, mistrust, and fear into a three-season tale, finding that curiosity, hope, and skepticism of what’s on the other side follows all of us.
Religious or secular, fortunate or unfortunate, everyone finds themselves inside a character, as heart-wrenching as it may be.
Storytelling alone, The Leftovers is HBO’s greatest achievement.
So, does Succession round out the top 5?
Related: ‘Succession’ Soars With Deathfest One-Liners As Human Rats Scurry Post (Spoiler Alert) Mortem For The Money In Latest Episode
Think John Wayne blanketed in HBO ethos. Or Sopranos with a Western backdrop from the 1870s. That’s Deadwood.
Protagonist Al Swearengen sits atop Mount Rushmore with Walter White, Tony Sopranos, and Homer Simpson.
Deadwood is as much of a fun hang as it is a riveting journey from a camp of gold to a political epicenter.
From dialogue to camp arrivals, from the heroes to villains, to envy of a more simple time — Deadwood is among the more enjoyable watches in the extensive HBO library.
You might rather rewatch Deadwood than Game of Thrones or The Wire. Knowing the ending hardly diminishes the voyage in Deadwood.
At this point, readers suspect we may insert Sex and the City as our sixth entry. Or Curb Your Enthusiasm. Or Larry Sanders Show. Maybe Veep?
While all worth the hype, Succession has them beat.
Through almost four and half seasons, Succession has staked its claim as the sixth-best show in HBO history.
That’s an incredible accomplishment given the series was unbeknownst to most subscribers until the second season.
And it wasn’t until the third season that consensus emerged it was HBO’s best program, thanks to early competition from Barry.
Of course, the possibility remains of a less-than-stellar ending. Season 1 of True Detective ranked amongst the top 10 before airing its finale.
That said, the brilliance of Succession is evading lulls. Like Mad Men, Succession has never aired a below-average episode.
The writers’ room has never lost its grip on viewers, never leading them astray. Each season has proved better than the previous.
We expect an ending that does Succession and its viewers justice.
For now, the ranking goes:
- The Sopranos
- The Wire
- Game of Thrones
- The Leftovers
Send us your list in the comment section below.
2 CommentsLeave a Reply
Glad to see you put The Leftovers up high. It is an incredible show.
I do not disagree with which titles are in the top 6, but I disagree with the order. GOT is far and away the best. Sopranos/Wire/and Deadwood are tied for #2. So similar were those shows that we called them “THe Sopranos”, “The Black Sopranos” and the “Western Sopranos”