Arts & Culture

How Do the Murdochs Unwind After a Week of Infighting?

By watching Succession on HBO, of course.
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The children of a powerful media mogul tear into each other to become the heir apparent of their family legacy. It's the delightful plot of Succession, the HBO series returning in June, and, as it happens, the real-life dilemma facing billionaire Rupert Murdoch and his offspring.

In their case, life does more than imitate art: The Murdochs actually watch the show.

A bombshell New York Times report published Wednesday outlined the ruthless battle to succeed Murdoch being waged by his adult children Lachlan, James, and Elisabeth. The piece also revealed a fun fact: After an exhausting week of in-fighting, several sources say the Murdochs put their knives away and sit down to watch the drama closely modeled on their real-time dynastic struggle.

Australian actress Sarah Snook plays Shiv Roy, the brainy but passed-over-because-she’s-female daughter that is seen as a close corollary to Murdoch’s second child, Elisabeth. Citing “a little birdie," Snook told T&C at the premiere of HBO’s final season of Veep last week: “I have it on good information that she’s actually watching the show.”

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Left: Sarah Snook as Shiv on Succession; Right: Elisabeth Murdoch

And does she enjoy it?

“I think so,” Snook replied, before disclaiming that—of course!—her character was “completely different” from the real Elisabeth. (She isn’t.)

Among Murdoch-watchers, the dramatis personae of Succession isn’t hard to connect to their opposite numbers in the family.

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Brian Cox plays Logan Roy, a spectacularly successful but ailing Scottish tycoon who lives in New York City. His second wife, the Lebanese character Marcia, played by Hiam Abass, corresponds to Murdoch’s third spouse, Wendi Deng.

Alan Ruck (who will forever be remembered as Cameron on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) plays the hapless Connor, who started out as a male version of Rupert’s disconnected eldest daughter, Prudence–but morphed during the first season into a libertarian Koch brother.

Among James and Lachlan Murdoch, the two princes jousting for control of the actual empire, take your pick between Kieran Culkin, who plays the reckless Roman, and Jeremey Strong, who plays his ruthless but inept brother, Kendall.

Longtime New York journalist, Frank Rich, produces both Veep and Succession. He says he faces the same problem on both shows: life keeps imitating art.

“It’s insane, we hate that they’re stealing our jokes,” he said at the Veep premiere.

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So have the Murdochs been in touch?

“We’ve had no direct feedback, and certainly not from him,” said Rich about Rupert.

“But some people in that constellation, through a game of telephone, have indicated that they find the show quite interesting. We’ve certainly heard that a couple of people in that family, whether by marriage or otherwise, find it amusing, and have their own views on how closely characters might resemble members of the family.”

He added: “In fact, they’re a composite of a million people in fiction.”

Of course they are.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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