Features and Columns · TV

The Family Business: Breaking Down the Opening Credits of ‘Succession’

Yeah, yeah, yeah the music slaps. But what are the opening credits to ‘Succession’ trying to tell us about the show’s main theme?
Succession Opening Credits
HBO
By  · Published on January 10th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on the thematic thrust of the opening credits sequence of HBO’s Succession.


Let’s be honest. I mean, we’re friends here. This is a no-judgment zone, right? Look: when it comes to the opening credits of the HBO drama series Succession, the first thing you think about isn’t the visuals. It’s that banger series theme by Nicholas Britell, that plunky auditory mish-mash of hip-hop beats and grandiose classical music.

But once you’ve wrenched yourself out of Britell’s 808-induced daze, we’d recommend giving the opening credits’ visuals a closer look. Created by Picturemill (the same title design studio behind Mission Impossible: III, Panic Room, and Signs), the opening credits to Succession sum up the series’ key themes with insinuation and flashbacks.

In the opening sequence, grainy 8mm footage and static VHS tapes show the Roy children struggling with the tension that will plague them into adulthood: the murky waters of family and business (and the family business) that taints their entire lives.

A garden-side family get-together is a pretense for business dealings; a childhood home does double time as physical evidence of wealth and empire; and a patriarchal presence looms large, be it at the head of the dinner table or behind closed doors. Gradually, more modern footage of the Roy family’s media empire seeps in through the cracks.

The emphasis is clear and unambiguous: for the Roy children, there is no divide between work and play, familial affection, and drama-fraught business dealings.

As the video essay below lays out in greater detail, Succession‘s opening does what the best openings do: it sets the stage for the main theme that will echo and unspool over the course of the series.

Watch “Decoding Succession’s Opening Credits”:


Who made this?

This video essay on the opening credits sequence of Succession comes courtesy of Now You See It. They are a YouTube channel dedicated to film analysis searching for meaning in unexpected places. You can follow Now You See It on YouTube and check out their back catalog here. Now You See It is run by Virginia-based software engineer Jack Nugent, whom you can follow on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).