The Succession fandom is small however vocal and fiercely devoted to the present. On platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, followers of the present analyze trailers body by body and talk about their hopes and goals for the characters. Regardless of being a present about ruthless capitalists, a few of whom supported a fascist presidential candidate, the best way that each one the characters have been so wounded by their abusive father makes it simple for the viewers to empathize with them. In fandom areas, that are usually majority feminine, followers of Siobhan Roy, performed by Sarah Snook, are particularly protecting of her. And typically, that model of fandom is expressed in counterintuitive methods, like a common frustration that the character was revealed to be pregnant early within the season.
Opinions run the gamut from the completely rational worry that being pregnant will sideline the character to the much less rational opinion that being pregnant plotlines are inherently misogynistic. I’ve seen followers name it “shoehorned in” and “lazy,” and usually have characterised it as pointless. Additional complicating issues is that individuals who work on the present have stated that the being pregnant storyline wasn’t conceived till late within the technique of scripting this season due to Snook’s personal real-life being pregnant. Some have gone as far to say that having a being pregnant plotline for a feminine character in any respect is sexist, and that writing one for Shiv makes Jesse Armstrong and the opposite writers of Succession sexist themselves. However Shiv has all the time skilled misogyny on the present — in some ways, her expertise within the narrative has been about attempting to burst by way of the glass ceiling unsuccessfully.
On some stage it’s comprehensible that some followers have their hackles up about Shiv’s being pregnant, given how pregnant characters and actresses have been handled on tv previously. Previous to I Love Lucy’s Lucille Ball refusing to cover her being pregnant on set, it was mainly forbidden to speak about and even allude to being pregnant on tv. The concept of even a married couple partaking in intercourse was seen as too scandalous. On I Love Lucy, Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz, who additionally performed her on-screen husband Ricky Ricardo, wrote her being pregnant into the script moderately than have the actress sit behind counter tops and tables to cover her physique. Since then, pregnancies on tv have usually gone both of two methods: Both the manufacturing adjustments to accommodate an actress all of a sudden sporting dishevelled clothes, like Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Seinfeld’s third season, or the being pregnant is written into the plot by some means, like with Nana Customer in Star Trek: Deep Area 9 turning into the magical surrogate for one more character’s child.
There’s a secret, third, horrible choice: to shorten the season or minimize the actress from the present. In The X-Information, when Gillian Anderson was pregnant throughout the second season, the character Dana Scully was kidnapped for a number of episodes. When Sarah Jessica Parker found she was pregnant when Intercourse and the Metropolis was taking pictures its fifth season, the season was shortened from 13 to eight episodes. And even when a being pregnant storyline is written right into a present due to an actress’ being pregnant, that doesn’t all the time imply that the storyline shall be one with dignity. Charisma Carpenter obtained pregnant whereas taking pictures Joss Whedon’s Angel, and he or she has repeatedly stated that Whedon was not solely indignant along with her, however blamed her for “sabotaging” the season’s finale. The next season, after she gave start, Whedon fired her.
Set in opposition to this background, the worry that the writers of Succession will sideline their solely main feminine character is warranted due to how badly pregnant girls have been burnt on display screen earlier than. However Shiv’s being pregnant, and her uncertainty about it, appears like entire new floor for the way pregnant girls are depicted on tv.
Snook’s portrayal of Siobhan Roy, the one daughter of media mogul Logan Roy and supposedly the “smartest one,” is like watching somebody swing on a flying trapeze. At any second, when she passes to the following bar, she may fall flat on her face. Generally, she does fall. However when she manages to drag off a scheme, or to really outsmart her two older brothers, she doesn’t break a sweat. Snook’s work on this season has been exceptional, no matter when Jesse Armstrong and the opposite writers determined that Shiv can be pregnant; watching her face in an episode, you all the time get the sense that she is processing two or three completely different emotions directly.
Picture: David M. Russell/HBO
Picture: Claudette Barius/HBO
Misogyny has all the time been a significant facet of Shiv’s expertise on this planet, and one the present hasn’t been shy about highlighting. When Logan tells her privately that he desires her to be the following CEO however gained’t announce it publicly, the unspoken purpose needs to be his pronounced sexism. When Shiv turns down her brother Kendall’s supply to affix him in going in opposition to their father, he shouts at her that Logan thinks she “counts double as a result of she’s a woman,” and that “it’s your teats that provide you with any worth.” Her means to tolerate sexist conduct, from her sexist father after which from Lukas Mattsson, a tech exec who sends frozen bricks of blood to his former paramour, is seen as a worth within the extremely poisonous world the place she is attempting to develop her energy. However it’s additionally a relentless risk to her — to not solely be seen as a girl, however to be handled as one.
It’s why her marriage to Tom Wambsgans, performed by Matthew Macfadyen, has all the time been so rocky. She resists any of his makes an attempt to create a extra equitable energy dynamic of their relationship — she must have not less than one man she will kick round in her life. When Tom might go to jail due to a company scandal, he begins begging her to have his baby, and even begins monitoring her interval in order that he can be taught when she’s most fertile. For all his overtures of attempting to win her over and make a household, she finally ends up turning into much more merciless to him, finally telling him that she doesn’t love him.
For a personality like that to finish up pregnant by a person she loves and hates is just not solely scrumptious drama, however an encapsulation of what Siobhan Roy has been attempting to navigate all through the present. She desires to be greater than only a girl; she desires to be thought-about on an equal taking part in area as her two brothers. However the phrase she makes use of when she learns that Tom has sabotaged her makes an attempt to discover a divorce lawyer says all of it: she “obtained mommed.” For all of the work she has accomplished, she is being handled in the identical method the lads in her life all the time deal with girls: expendable, unimportant, unintelligent.
Picture: David M. Russell/HBO
It’s a bitter tablet to swallow, particularly when you think about how a lot of her personal integrity Shiv has given up as a way to navigate the company world. As soon as she was a staffer for progressive presidential candidates; now she talks girls out of coming ahead with rape allegations. You possibly can completely inform this story with out Shiv getting pregnant, however her being pregnant provides further rigidity to those scenes, creating extra context for what the present is saying about legacy and parenthood. The present is in regards to the ache that reverberates round a household — why ought to Shiv be disregarded of that dynamic?
It’s up to now unclear whether or not or not Shiv even desires to have this child, however she appears to know not directly that her obligation to the household is to create a legacy. Not having skilled motherly love, she doesn’t actually know easy methods to categorical it both — final season her mom informed her she ought to have had canine as a substitute of children. When Kendall tells her in an intimate dialog that “perhaps the poison drips by way of,” perhaps the best way that our father handled us means that we are going to additionally abuse our youngsters, having Shiv be pregnant truly makes the present extra inclusive of her emotional wrestle. She is quietly experiencing a type of strain her brother won’t ever need to face — the uniquely sexist strain to hold a toddler once you don’t wish to. The concept of the poison dripping by way of their veins is extra related to her than it’s to him.
It’s refreshing, additionally, that among the many many pressures in her life, Shiv’s being pregnant is just not depicted as a very powerful factor in her world. Though not each girl desires to be pregnant and have a toddler, girls get pregnant on a regular basis. It’s a traditional sufficient incidence that it typically feels bizarre to me how little being pregnant exhibits up in tv exhibits. Followers of Shiv don’t need her to be outlined by her womanhood, and neither does Shiv. Her being pregnant on this season is an indication of the foibles of her continued makes an attempt to realize energy in a patriarchal system. Irrespective of how competent you’re, or how proper you’re, or how sensible you’re, you’ll be able to all the time “get mommed.”