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We’re short on schadenfreude with ‘Succession’ on the shelf

Brian Cox stars in HBO's "Succession."
Brian Cox stars in HBO's "Succession."HBO via AP

Paging Shiv Roy. Kendall, where are you? Roman, stop spewing clever irony and insults and tell me what to do. I am in a state of missing “Succession,” the HBO show whose first two seasons were summertime hits. The drama — which is also a comedy — has been the perfect kind of entertainment for the dog days. I find that high temps make me want to laugh at and cheer for hateful wealthy people who own five houses and who stab one another in the back on a regular basis and act like a litter of warring cats, don’t you?

The third season of “Succession” was scheduled to begin production in April, just in time for the pandemic. Some shows shut down in the middle of creating their latest seasons, including that other rich-people-acting-richly series “Billions.” So their TV outlets were able to air partial seasons while most of us sat home scrubbing our hands.


But there were no episodes of “Succession” ready to go; just some scripts and the audience’s fond memories of Kendall’s sweet public statement at the end of season 2 that his father “is a malignant presence, a bully and a liar.” Most of the cast members had just negotiated new salaries — according to the Hollywood Reporter, up from under $100,000 per episode to between $300,000-$350,000, except Brian Cox, who makes even more, largely thanks to the show’s importance to the HBO brand. With “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” now out of the picture, “Succession” is the big prestige showpiece, along with “Barry,” which also missed going back into production for season 3.

And so a Roy-free summer will pass us by. I will need to satisfy my hunger for schadenfreude and nasty wit elsewhere. All I can say is that those new “Succession” scripts better be super good, since the writers have had tons of time. Roman’s witty lines need to be denser than ever. And here’s hoping Cousin Greg has grown at least an inch or two.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.