When the trailer for Succession’s third season arrived last month, the scant minute-and-a-half of edited footage it showed was exciting not just because it hinted at how the show’s plot will continue moving forward but also because it reminded viewers of how much fun it is to hear characters threaten each other with lines like “Logan is going to fire a million poisonous spiders down your dicky” and “You tell him I’m going to grind his fucking bones to make my bread.”
In an excellent profile of Succession’s creator/writer Jesse Armstrong from The New Yorker, we’re given a bit of insight into how this kind of dialogue is written. Unsurprisingly, given the grandeur of the show’s portrayal of an extravagantly wealthy family and the powerful media empire they control, Armstrong and his writers’ room read everything from the Financial Times and Crime And Punishment to “histories of ancient Rome” to understand their characters better. (Dostoevsky, apparently, to inform “Kendall’s inner turmoil” and descriptions of “Nero and his freedman Sporus” to “illuminate the dynamic between Tom and Cousin Greg.”)
The specifics of the dialogue—especially in its most hilariously vicious and crude forms—is based on a general rule from Armstrong that every insult “should be at least as expressive of who the character uttering it is as it is eloquent, or ineloquent, about its target.” The article gives the example of a back and forth that sees Kendall’s exaggerated threat of physical violence responded to by his ex-friend with a line about “poo-poo [popping] out of my nose hole.” Another version of it comes from season 3's trailer when Logan Roy promises to “grind” his son’s “fucking bones to make my bread.” Kendall replies: “Okay, tell him that I’m gonna run up off the ... fucking beanstalk.”
Read the rest of the article at The New Yorker for much more about Armstrong’s history as a writer and his approach to Succession’s characters ahead of the third season’s premiere this October.
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