The Real Life Family That May Have Inspired Succession: The Murdochs

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The HBO show Succession has seen massive success over the past three seasons. Its storyline follows the dysfunctional, but extremely wealthy Roy family – in particular, the four middle-aged siblings, who must deal with hurdles in their personal and professional lives. Kendall, Shiv and Roman work at the multimillion-dollar media conglomerate owned by their father Logan Roy, who rules his company and his family with an iron fist.

In the show's pilot episode, Logan Roy suffers a stroke, leading to a battle for succession amidst his children and relatives that makes up the central conflict of the show.

Succession skilfully navigates between refreshing comedy and high-stakes drama, maintaining tension but knowing when to temporarily release it. Although the real world has no shortage of crazy-rich families that are likely just as chaotic as the Roys behind closed doors, the real-life inspiration behind the Roy family has been the subject of great speculation.

Who Are The Murdochs?

Rupert Murdoch is an Australian-born media scion, and an incredibly wealthy man who has built his own media empire from the ground up – much like Logan Roy.

When his father passed away, Rupert inherited the responsibility of managing his father's newspaper, just at age 22. He would spend the next few decades expanding his business, eventually buying notable newspapers in both the US and the UK, including The Sun and The New York Post. His next step of action was to rein in television, film, and publishing companies. By 2009, Fortune reported his company, News Corporation, was one of the largest media companies of the world.

Rupert's personal life has also been plagued by drama. Over his 70-year-long career, he has been subject to government investigations and sexual harassment claims. He has also been married four times – the last to supermodel Jenny Hall, and in their divorce settlement, there was a clause forbidding Hall from supplying ideas to the people behind Succession.

The Cut-Throat Roys vs. The Uber-Rich Murdochs

The show's creator, Jesse Armstrong, has said that there were a number of real-life families that provided the inspiration for Succession, including the Hearsts, Redstones, and Robert and Rebekah Mercer. Still, there are a number of similarities between the Roys and the Murdochs, from their professional trajectories to the family members' individual personalities.

Logan Roy's company, Waystar Royco, is likely heavily based on Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. There are strong parallels between ATN, the conservative news channel run by Waystar, and the real-life Fox News. Waystar also has a book publishing branch similar to HarperCollins, which is another part of the Murdochs' empire. Lastly, Logan's determination to seize control of his competitor, Pierce Global Media, resembles the Murdochs' acquisition of Dow Jones, the publishing company behind The Wall Street Journal.

The individuals behind these media empires, Logan Roy and Rupert Murdoch, both came from humble beginnings before they built their careers to what they are today. However, there is a minor difference in that Murdoch's father had already worked hard to establish a strong foundation in the form of his newspaper. Rupert massively expanded on this, whereas all Logan Roy inherited from his father was a few billboards. Another similarity between the two is in their personal lives – both having been divorced multiple times – and their political leanings – in their support for the Republican party.

The Inheritors of The Empire

The parallels between the Roys and the Murdochs trickle down to their children, and the number of traits they have in common. Kendall Roy's trajectory somewhat mirrors that of Lachlan Murdoch, as both were expected to be the primary successors of their father's empire. However, Kendall attempted a vote of no-confidence against his dad and was promptly fired from the company, while Lachlan suddenly resigned from his position at News Corp, without explanation.

Roman Roy – the blunt, sarcastic youngest brother – also has similarities with a member of the Murdochs. James Murdoch, like Roman, worked for his dad's company's film division, as the CEO of 21st century Fox. In addition, James was involved in one of the company scandals, involving a hacked phone, much like Roman who has to undergo investigation for fumbling the company's rocket launch.

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