The 'Succession' Insult Index: Episode One

"Can you hold the fort here?"

19 October 2021, 11:53am

There are many things to love about Succession, the everything-winning HBO juggernaut that returned this week for its much-anticipated third season. The studied portraits of a one percent entirely divorced from reality; the Shakespearean levels of familial psychodrama; the always-surprising plotting – all aspects which are totally thrilling. 

But best of all is something more base than any of that: the insults. My god, the insults. The way these characters speak to and about each other is nothing shy of art, and over the course of Succession’s run they have become sublime in their scope, from “fuckleheads” to “cock rings made from calamari”. So what better way to assess this season than my patented Succession Insult Index? 


It’s pretty simple: every couple of weeks I’ll round up the worst things people on this show have said to each other and present them to you here, ranked from simply amazing to elite, would-make-God-cry tier. What’s that expression? Oh yeah. “The full Baskin Robbins: 31 flavours of fuck.” Enjoy!

10: “That disingenuous fuckdoll”

(Shiv Roy re: Kendall Roy) 

Good, solid, and as specifically cutting as only a sibling can be.

9: “I’m going to grind his fucking bones to make my bread”

(Logan Roy re: Kendall Roy)

Something a bit throwback from Logan here. A little bit fun, a little bit medieval, even – just a nod to the many strains of insult the big man can pull out (of the ten listed here, over half come from Daddy).

8: “I can’t have weevils in the fucking flour sack”

(Kendall Roy to Karolina Novotney re: Karolina Novotney)

Imagine Kendall Roy – the man who wants to get “some Bojack guys” on his tweets – calling you a weevil. Could you ever come back from it? 

7: “You wanna suck my dick?”

(Logan Roy to Roman Roy)

Succinct, to the point, but scores lower than it might otherwise because it’s actually bested by Roman’s response, as his father’s car door is shut in his face: “… is what he said to his son as the sexual assault allegations poured in.”

6: “No local foods”

(Logan Roy to airport sandwich platters everywhere)

Logan Roy, providing much-needed representation for irritable bowels, and decimating pre-packaged tuna wraps in the process. 

5: “This is not a nice thing to say about your son, but maybe you chop him into a million pieces and toss them in the Hudson?”

(Roman Roy to Logan Roy re: Kendall Roy)

Roman Roy, reminding us that if it’s true depravity you’re after, he’s your man. 

4: “The Raisin”

(Logan Roy re: the President of the United States)

I didn’t catch this the first time around, but on a second viewing I was delighted to hear Logan referring to the President – who he really needs onside right now – with possibly the most evocative pet name there is. I hope that, in grand comedy tradition, we never actually meet the President, and only ever hear him referred to in similar terms.

(Jesse Armstrong, Succession’s creator, is no stranger to this type of running joke; in Peep Show, Mark and Jeremy have a mate called “Pej” who is oft-cited but never seen, which makes any mention of him 50 percent funnier.)

3: “Go on, fuck off back there, Tumbledown Dick”

(Logan Roy to Roman Roy) 

Another one I didn’t hear the first time, this is muttered to Roman by Logan as he sends him back to New York, and is even more quietly devastating than “The Raisin”. Tumbledown Dick was the popular name for Oliver Cromwell’s son Richard, who, by all accounts, was viewed as a bit of a moron (he took his dad’s job after he died and had to resign nine months later). True savagery from the master of the form. 

2: “Can you hold the fort here?”

(Logan Roy to Connor Roy) 

But… this has to be worse. If Logan’s pissed off with you, at least it means you matter in his big picture. But the kindly, almost gentle tone he takes with his eldest, most useless adult son Connor, when asking him to stay put – for no purpose whatsoever – while everyone else is sent to “action stations”, is way, way more of an actual KO than any withering putdown Logan could possibly come out with. 

1: “Watch it, fuckhead”

(Tom Wambsgans to Hugo Baker)

Because Succession is a show about power at the very highest level, its best humour is often found in total puerility, which is why Tom screaming at Hugo from inside the PJ toilet (in response to his question, “Have a problem in there, buddy? Can’t find a vein?”, which in itself is extremely funny) is the top insult of the week.

Nobody does “out of his depth” like Matthew Macfadyen – except maybe Nicholas Braun, who plays Greg, the ying to Tom’s yang – and while it was a quiet week for Tom in general, this was a reminder of the balance that Succession hangs in with perfect poise, and of the fact that, ultimately, Waystar Royco is one big shit-show at the fuck factory.


HBO, succession

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