Succession, the Dharma, and You

Rev Christie Bates LPC
The Fifth Posture
Published in
7 min readApr 15

Greg as our gateway drug

Greg promising to do what he is definitely not about to do. From Succession Wiki Fandom

Now is the time — after Season 4, Episode 3 and before Episode 4 — to share my thoughts about Succession, the HBO phenomenon created by Jesse Armstrong. I want to do this without spoilers, because they’re not necessary for these reflections.

S4 Ep3 marks such a drastic turning point, with seven more episodes still to go in this final season, that it validates my belief that the real protagonist of this morality play is Greg Hirsch. We enter the world of the billionaire branch of the Roy family through the buzzed, puked-soiled eye-holes of cousin Greg in the very first minutes of the show, and I am more convinced than ever that the final end of the story will hinge on the results of Greg’s actions on Greg’s life — in Early Buddhist terms, his own karma.

Greg mirrors our delusion

If all you had to go on was listening to hundreds or thousands of hours of discussion and interviews about this show, you would get a mistaken impression that Greg is an innocent. But the fact is, even when we first meet Greg, he’s not an innocent. It’s just that he’s more relatable to most of us as a so-called regular guy: He doesn’t start out with the degree of wealth and power his cousins have access to, and his lack of integrity is dwarfed at first by the grim cruelty of other characters — people that are further down the path of their various forms of addiction to power.

We relate to Greg because, at first, Greg is like the vast majority of Americans — addicted to pleasure, comfort and numbness supplied by substances that are socially acceptable.

We know this for several reasons: We see how he manages to lose a theme park job that a teenager might hold due to his drug use. We see the ridiculous and transparent lies he tells his mother when he calls her, broke. And we see that his mother has reached some kind of limit. “I’m not giving you any more money, Greg.” We may enjoy the humor of his faux-innocent bumbling and charm, but any parent who has received such a call knows the clenching of the stomach when it occurs.

Exasperated that Greg’s mind was apparently too clouded even to trade on his connection to the Roy family to keep himself from being fired, and determined not to solve Greg’s problem for him this time…

Rev Christie Bates LPC
The Fifth Posture

She/Her ~ Contemplative Therapist and Spiritual Director