This is story is part of a series, "I See You Man," about depictions of manhood and masculinity running through the month of November, which is Men's Health Awareness month
Even if you haven't joined the internet's obsession with Succession, you've surely been touched by its cultural influence, whether it's being asked if you're more of a Shiv (Sarah Snook) or Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) or being forced to watch Kendall (Jeremy Strong) rap "L-to-the-OG." Succession was everywhere in the back half of 2019, so naturally it was top of mind when thinking about TV Guide's I See You, Man package for the month of November, a look at the various ways masculinity is being played out on television today.
Succession, for all its insane family drama, shows a spectrum of masculine identities, ranging from the most toxic to the precious and pure (at least for now). While "problematic" doesn't even begin to describe a couple of the Roy family men (ahem, hey Logan) the show depicts a variety of fellows with complicated layers, and when thinking about presentations of masculinity and manhood on TV we found no better bunch to analyze than the men of the Roy universe. Here are the men of Succession ranked from most toxic to least. Heads up: figuring out the middle was the hardest part.
7. Logan Roy
If we were to give Logan Roy (Brian Cox) the chance to defend himself from the label of Most Toxic, he'd probably say, "F--- off." One could argue that he's only tough on his kids and everyone around him because he wants them to be the best, but you only have to look at the Roy family's collective therapy bill to know how well that worked out. Logan Roy is essentially a sociopath. The game of "Boar on the Floor" he forced the company's top executives to play in Season 2 shows how much he likes to make people squirm for his own enjoyment. He let someone like "Mo"-Lester stick around and create the closet of skeletons threatening to take down entire Waystar Royco empire. Psychological torture of Kendall, the systematic build-up and breaking down of Shiv, the womanizing that's lead to at least three different wives with an unknown number of affairs: there are some messed-up men in this family, but Logan takes the cake.
6. Roman Roy
Season 2 of Succession did a better job of showing that Roman (Kieran Culkin) may actually have a heart under his Wall Street schmuck outer layer, but that doesn't make up for the fact he was a walking sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen in the series' earlier episodes. Remember in the pilot when he wrote that kid a check $1 million if he could hit a home run, and when the kid was tagged out at home plate, Roman ripped up the check right in front of the kid, just for fun? Obviously, Roman has daddy and mommy issues, and his adoration of Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) has shown his softer side, but when your most redeeming quality is an inappropriate relationship with your family's head of legal counsel, there's some serious stuff to be worked out there, bro.
5. Connor Roy
Connor (Alan Ruck) may seem like the harmless eldest Roy sibling, living a simpler life in Utah with his aspiring playwright girlfriend, but glimpses into Connor's inner beliefs have raised red flags. First of all, his wife-to-be was a former escort whose love Connor seems to be buying. He was more than a little creepy about convincing her to move in with him and let's not forget how verbally abusive he was to the catering staff at an event when Logan refused to acknowledge he'd be stepping down. There's definitely a dark side with this one. What we've seen makes us even more wary of the unknown.
4. Kendall Roy
Kendall and Connor's position on this list can flip-flop depending on the episode. Kendall spent most of Season 2 acting more like an abused puppy than a man, but his sheepish expressions aren't enough to forgive his sins from Season 1. Case in point: He told his ex-wife when he thought that he was going to take over Waystar that she should get back with him because he was the man and why should he be the one out of the two of them that was unhappy? Gross. He's also as complicit, if not more so, in the Mo garbage fire as his dad is. His involvement in the death of the waiter from Shiv's wedding may have humbled Kendall, but his killer instinct emerged at the end of Season 2. His soul is closer to the dark side than the light.
3. Tom Wambsgans
Tom (Matthew MacFadyen) has a lot of redeeming qualities, like the fact that he seems to truly love Shiv, and deep down he probably really does care a lot about Greg. The problem is that he goes about showing that in really terrible ways. He was shown "the death pit" and decided to destroy all of the evidence, displaying a troubling lack of moral character. Worse, he made Greg destroy the evidence and sent him threatening e-mails the entire time. He also forced subordinates to kneel and act as his foot rest for the day, which sounds like the makings of a #TimesUp nightmare exposé. Tom might've been a good guy at one point, and while shades of that show up from time to time, power and entitlement have revealed the truth that he's actually a massive douchebag.
2. Ewan Roy
Honestly, Ewan (James Cromwell) made it so high on the list simply because we don't know a lot about him, except for the fact that he detests the way the Roy family runs its business. That's a pretty clear indicator of his core, even if he's a gigantic grump. Does being miserly necessarily mean he's toxic? We don't think so. He's cynical and brash, but he hasn't appeared abusive in any way. He did try to pull Greg out of the Waystar insanity with a large bribe, but he ultimately left the choice up to Greg. It shows he cares about his grandson in his own grumpy old man way. We hold the right to adjust this ranking once more of his skeletons come out of the closet though.
1. Cousin Greg
Greg the Egg is purest thing about the Roy family, even though they've tried their best to break him. All he wanted was a job, and in return he became complicit in covering up dozens, if not hundreds, of sex crimes committed by the head of Waystar's cruise division. Greg was smart enough to save some of the incriminating documents that Tom sent him to destroy, though, thus making Greg part of the justice train for the women who suffered at Lester's hands. Greg's hands aren't clean, but he can at least say he was never in favor of getting them dirty. He didn't want to go to the sex party for Tom's bachelor party, and spent most of it trying to hide from everyone's escapades. He tried his best to separate himself from Tom's bad behavior, only to get pelted with water bottles for the attempt. He's trying to stay good, which is the most we can say for any of the men in this family. He has little power now, but if the the moral fortitude of this family comes to be dependent on Greg's ability to withstand the peer pressure of those around him, the whole bunch is doomed. We're rooting for you, Greg. We really are.
Succession is now available to stream on HBO.