Succession, the beloved HBO show that has smashed streaming records like a low-fantasy Game of Thrones, is ripe for parody.
The main characters — the conniving and lovably-unlovable members of the Roy family, who have spent the last three seasons competing for the power (and approval) that their media mogul father Logan (played by Brian Cox) may or may not have to offer — are distinct in their personalities and mannerisms.
It’s surprising Saturday Night Live hasn’t yet suited up Pete Davidson and his cohorts to sling vicious insults at each other in the corner of a fictional gathering for the ultra-rich. Thus far, the show’s social media success is mostly seen on Twitter, where screenshots of the casts’ pithy one-liners frequently go viral.
Succession has a comparatively small footprint on TikTok, where suited-up fans march along the street to the show’s catchy theme song and pretend to indulge themselves in the antics of the absurdly wealthy. Thankfully, a handful of creators have found footing there.
Some analyze the show: the Emmy-winning acting, the high-fashion-finance-bro clothing and the Shakespearean themes. Others obsess over its bumbling heartthrob, Sky High actor Nicholas Braun, who plans fan-favorite Cousin Greg.
Though Succession is a show about the competition among spoiled siblings vying for the proverbial “kiss from Daddy” — control of the fictional media conglomerate Waystar Royco — there’s really no question who is on top of SuccessionTok: Taylor Owen and James Neal.
Owen and Neal, a real-life couple who met while studying acting at Chapman University, play all the characters in their Succession spoofs — except for Logan. That’s their former professor, who had a hand in getting them together.
Instead of imagining a normal person in the high-powered world of endless red wine, 24/7 meetings and private jets, Owen and Neal bring the characters back down to “real life.” You’ll see them arguing about whose turn it is to make coffee, who’s responsible for Thanksgiving dinner and whether or not it’s OK to call someone on The Bachelorette “hot.”
In an interview with In The Know, Owen and Neal said they had been binging Succession for the second time to “pregame” for the third season. Owen said that made her realize how “smart” the show is.
One might assume that makes the show a difficult one to parody — it’s hard to put your own writing up against that of a critically acclaimed series adored by the masses. But the idea for a skit just came to Owen one day.
She said she does most of the initial writing (to the tune of the Succession soundtrack, of course), then she and Neal go back and forth perfecting it until the family arguments seem both accurate to the show’s world and ridiculous when staged in totally normal environments.
The attention to detail in the sketches is what makes them so magical. Owen’s facial expressions perfectly match up to those of Shiv (Sarah Snook), nailing her incredulous glances. Most sketches see Owen up against Neal as Shiv’s brother Kendall (Jeremy Strong), whose recognizable deep voice is always coated with anxiety. Sometimes Neal plays Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), Shiv’s husband who often finds himself on her bad side.
Owen’s favorite character to play, though, is Roman (Kieren Culkin), the goofy comic relief who is just as sinister as his siblings. Roman is best known for his tendency to sit in unconventional places and unconventional ways, so for Thanksgiving dinner, Owen plopped him in the sink.
Commenters went wild for that one — and for Neal’s natural Cousin Greg impression. Owen responds to many comments in character as a Roy.
“You can’t just record Succession and post it,” one user said.
“It’s absurd how accurate this is,” another wrote.
The couple told In The Know that they pass the phone camera back and forth to film each other for every single shot, painstakingly mimicking the real show’s quick zooms and cuts. Then Owen edits it together.
“The amount of passion she puts into the editing process is extreme, and I’m so impressed every time,” Neal said of his girlfriend. “She does so much work, staying on top of the trends and all that on TikTok, and I just kind of show up.”
Succession‘s third season comes to an end on Dec. 12, but Owen and Neal have big plans for their TikTok outside the realm of Waystar Royco. You’ll have to follow along to find out.
Owen made one final attempt to get Logan Roy’s attention, just as any good Succession character would.
“Just let Brian Cox know that this is not all that serious,” she said, jokingly referring to her relationship with Neal. “So if he does want to call me…”
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