'Succession' Season 2 Trailer: What To Know About The Murdoch Family Before the August Premiere

The first season was a veiled, if obvious, fictionalization of the Rupert Murdoch empire, similar to how Citizen Kane was about William Randolph Hearst in all but name. With Succession Season 2 premiering August 11 (and a new trailer to accompany the announcement), the show's building on itself, growing its own fictional world, but also offers a new interplay between the fictional Roys and the all-too-real Murdochs. When Succession first premiered, it was possible to compare the show to the Murdochs—how closely does this fictional family of media scions track with what we know about the News Corp empire?—but Season 2 is no longer commentary, it's dialogue.

Like the second season of most shows, Succession will change in response to its public reception, but the upcoming episodes of Succession are also—by virtue of serial television's dynamic interaction with reality—tied to the saga of the living Murdochs. Now we can run the discourse both ways: how much are the Murdochs hewing to the broken lives of the Roys? In this, Succession Season 2 has the opportunity to pioneer a new frontier in dark comedy, not just satirically taking on the world as is, but engaging in a running interaction with one of the world's most powerful families.

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Kieran Culkin and Jeremy Strong in Episode 4 of "Succession." Peter Kramer/HBO

"I always wanted one of you kids to take over," family patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) tells his four children in the Succession Season 2 trailer. He's not lying, not exactly, but Season 1 showed he'll hold on to his power to the bitter end. Still, the four kids snipe at each other and maneuver in the narrow space available to them. There's the venal dilettante Roman (Kieran Culkin), the vacuous eldest Connor (Alan Ruck), the jaded Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Kendall (Jeremy Strong), the business-minded heir apparent with a drug problem.

Like Rupert, Logan has had children in multiple marriages—six rather than the Succession four: Prudence, Lachlan, James, Elisabeth, Chloe and Grace.

Like Connor, Murdoch's oldest child Prudence has occupied various sinecures throughout News Corp, but is otherwise not too involved with the family business and not a competitor to succeed the 88-year-old media mogul.

Murdoch's two children from his second marriage, Lachlan and James, closely mirror the competitive Roy brothers, Kendall and Roman. James was once chairman and CEO of News Corp, but has since fallen out of favor (in part because of the phone hacking scandal that rocked the British press). Lachlan is now the heir apparent, and co-chairman of News Corp alongside his father, despite a dramatic exit from the company in 2005. Having lost the top spot, even after his brother's time away from the company, James has recently pivoted to philanthropic work, in an effort "to distance himself from the taint of Fox News," which The Intercept describes in detail. James is most clearly mirrored in Kendall's behavior through the first season, during which he tries to separate himself from his father's hard-right politics and pivot to hip, young tech start-ups after learning he wasn't to be named the company's chief executive.

Like Shiv, Rupert's daughter is more of an outsider to the family business, starting her own production company and buying up NBC affiliates to flip for a profit. While her businesses have long depended on loans secured by Rupert, a 2011 deal saw Elisabeth officially brought back into the fold, when News Corp bought her production company, with 153 million pounds of the sale going directly to Elisabeth.

There's already one key way in which Succession Season 2 won't follow the real-life News Corp saga. "We're going to be the number one media conglomerate in the world," Logan says in the new Season 2 trailer. But the Murdoch family ambitions aren't quite so expansive—they sold off 21st Century Fox to the Walt Disney Company in 2019.

Still, when Succession Season 2 premieres on HBO on August 11, we'll be keeping an eye open for new parallels. As a new character says in the Season 2 trailer, "Watching you people melt down is the most deeply satisfying activity on Planet Earth," describing a schadenfreude impulse the public gets only too rarely from the tribulations of its billionaire class.

'Succession' Season 2 Trailer: What To Know About The Murdoch Family Before the August Premiere | Culture