May 28, 2023

With only six more episodes of “Succession” to go, will the series finally offer a deeper exploration into Marcia’s background? I’d say don’t get your hopes up. “Succession” has never used flashbacks and it prefers to keep the characters’ backgrounds vague. Take the repeated suggestions that Roman was abused in childhood, or the mystery surrounding the death of Logan’s sister, Rose. Another show might have had a dramatic revelation by now, but “Succession” has asked its audience to keep reading between the lines instead. After all, the Roys are all too emotionally stunted to talk about anything truly delicate.

While Marcia’s in-universe backstory is a mystery, her real-life inspiration is not. Series creator Jesse Armstrong claims the Roys are based on multiple clans. However, one parallel has been repeatedly discussed: the Murdochs, the infamous family behind NewsCorp and Fox “News.” Armstrong even wrote an unproduced movie script about the family, titled “The Murdochs.” It’s not hard to see how Armstrong strip-mined this script for “Succession.”

Continuing the analogy, Marcia would be Wendi Deng Murdoch, the third wife of Rupert who also features in Armstrong’s script. They were married from 1998 to 2013 and still together when Armstrong wrote the script. Like Deng, Marcia is the younger, international wife of a right-wing media baron (Deng is Chinese, Hiam Abbass is Palestinian but it’s unclear if Marcia is too).

Now, the similarities aren’t endless. While Marcia is a socialite, Deng Murdoch is a successful businesswoman in her own right, having first met Rupert while serving as VP of Star TV in Hong Kong. Logan’s death means we won’t get any more storylines paralleling Rupert and Wendi, like them having children, divorcing, or Marcia (allegedly) screwing the former British prime minister.

It may have begun as a roman à clef, but “Succession” has grown into so much more.

“Succession” airs on HBO and streams on HBO Max every Sunday at 9 p.m. EST.

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