Why Is the Food in ‘Succession’ So Gross?

There’s one moment from the third season of Succession that I cannot dislodge from my mind. It is not the replica of his mother’s vagina that Kendall constructed for the entryway of his birthday party, nor is it Greg asking Logan for Coca-Cola with his rum, though those are a close second and third. No, it is the image of Logan Roy, the one percent of the one percent, eating an antipasto nightmare consisting of soggy leaves, greasy cheese hunks, and meat cubes.

Logan, may I suggest … Sweetgreen?
Photo: HBO

Well, you may argue, Logan is stuck at an airport hotel in Sarajevo deciding whether he needs to flee the country before being charged for covering up decades of serious crimes committed on his cruises. He can’t exactly call in a personal chef. That’s a good point! But you’re wrong. Even when he’s not attempting to bribe the president, Logan has never eaten anything that looks remotely appetizing. Neither, really, has anyone on Succession, a show largely built on the premise that the absurdly rich and powerful are vile but also pretty miserable themselves.

Of all the Roys’ woes (impotence, mean dad, no personal jets), a lack of decent food is by far the most consistent. There are far more scenes in Succession that hint at food than there are with food actually being consumed: tables fully set for Thanksgiving with nary a crumb of stuffing in sight; temporary CEOs being floated over untouched pies of pizza. There are many, many corporate spreads growing staler by the minute, the granola bars and Saran-wrapped sandwiches bearing witness to the sins of Waystar-Royco. Also: meats. So many meats! All of them gross in a slightly different way.

If you think about it, it makes sense that Succession’s meals are objectively unappetizing. Good food is so often tied to family, love, warmth, or comfort, of which there’s very little to be found in the Roy clan. Their meals are not filled with laughter and chatter and other signifiers of human connection. They are stressful power competitions, tests of fealty to Logan, or tense preludes to business deals. Why should the food be good?

With the exception of the fictional “Greg sprinkles,” the parade of objectionable food on this show is honestly impressive. A small sampling of the most offensive fare:

Pigeon and potatoes

Photo: HBO

Whenever anyone in Succession wants to seem down to earth, they serve some kind of rustically prepared meat that’s supposed to seem cozy and welcoming. Surprise: It never is. To welcome Shiv and Kendall to her home, their mother Caroline cooks her children a bird best known for pooping all over the streets of New York City. This posh British pigeon doesn’t seem much more appetizing: She warns them not to “crack a tooth” on the potential pieces of shot left inside the bird. To make matters worse, “the shot can take a bit of feather in, too.” Excuse me???


Photo: HBO

Speaking of birds, one of the first dates of Tom and Greg’s uncomfortable romance took place over illegally hunted deep-fried songbirds, a French delicacy that’s supposed to be eaten whole while also, inexplicably, with one’s head covered by a napkin. Greg’s review: “If I eat any more songbirds, I think I’m gonna hurl.” I first learned what ortolans were thanks to an equally horrifying ortolan scene in Billions, and let me just say: No thank you. No crunch has ever sounded more chilling.

Cold butter

Photo: HBO

A lot of this show’s food is like the culinary equivalent of wearing an itchy cashmere sweater: stuffy catered fare at parties that you suspect could afford much better. One such instance is the cold butter that pushes Connor over the edge at a company gala he’s supposed to be in charge of. Is there any more literal metaphor for the Roy family ethos than hard, unyielding pats of icy butter, too rigid to spread on bread?

Yacht chicken

Photo: HBO

Overall, the yacht food in season two’s finale is actually the most appetizing-looking cuisine on this show so far. And yet, the most food-centric scene in this episode shows Tom reaching over to Logan’s plate to grab a fatty-looking chicken leg and mashing it into his mouth rebelliously.

Look at all that cartilage!! Disgusting.

Hamptons pizza

Photo: HBO

Every so often, our terrible rich family members stoop to the level of their Middle America audience and consume lowbrow food. It’s supposed to seem chill and relatable, but it is always somehow … off. Case in point: when the Roys’ Hamptons staff tossed God knows how many pounds of top-tier lobster in the trash so they could order pizza for a family gathering only to abandon the pizza while Logan calls each kid into the room to play a few rounds of emotional chess before declaring none of them the new CEO. While I was initially enraged at the idea that they could sit there with pies untouched (who does this?), I must confess the pies do not look too good to begin with. One of the slices is adorned with enormous trunks of broccoli, and it’s all served up with one of those weird pizzeria salads that’s just wilting arugula and wrinkled cherry tomatoes.

But the best explanation for why the food on Succession is so gross comes from Logan himself. In response to Karl’s request that the team order food while plotting against Kendall, Logan says, “Food? Swallow. We’re on saliva and adrenaline here.” Sounds accurate to me.

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