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Friday, January 21, 2022

How continuity turns getting what you want into hell

Two years ago, when the second season of HBO’s Legacy ended, we saw Logan Roy, the head of the right-wing media empire, looking for someone from his inner circle to act as a scandal in a corporate scandal. One of the candidates was his unfortunate son-in-law Tom Wembsgans. But Shiv, Logan’s daughter, asked him to spare her husband, and Logan’s eyes turned instead to his second son, Kendall. However, this time Kendall did not follow the old man’s order: he appeared at the press conference and, instead of withstanding criticism, blamed his father.

The pandemic prevented Continuity from continuing the story until this fall; its third season, nine episodes in total, ended on December 12. But in the middle of that run, he showed a wonderful moment that captured the show’s great gimmick: whenever these 1% succeed, the outcome is worse than if they failed.

Because when Kendall became a fraud, it is Tom who really volunteers to sacrifice and resigns himself to a criminal charge. He assumes that he has a few days left as a free man, so he spends them reading prison blogs and trying to get used to cheap food. Only in the seventh episode does he learn that the federal investigation, which he feared, is likely to end in a financial fine. Suddenly getting rid of years behind bars, he heads to his wary friend Greg’s office and destroys it in triumph: with a scream, he rolls over the table and jumps onto several filing cabinets, banging his chest. But his ecstasy is short-lived. An episode later, Shiv – under the guise of role playing – tells him that she doesn’t really love him, even though she would consider having the child he wanted. Having escaped prison, Tom remains in a loveless union, trapped in a cage of wealth, which he lacks the courage to leave. He wins, and it may well be worse for him.

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Tom’s fate seems to have changed in the season finale. But those previous scenes most reminded me of Peep Show, a sitcom that Jesse Armstrong, creator of Legacy, filmed in the UK between 2003 and 2015. the voiceover, revealing the inner thoughts of the protagonists, focuses on two characters: Mark, the cynical and awkward credit manager, and Jeze, his eternally unemployed roommate. His humor is based on many things – Mark’s repressed rage and unsettling conservatism, Jez’s sexual negligence, and the illusions of composure – but writer Jim Gavin, creator of AMC’s Lodge 49, reported in 2016 that he discovered “a central narrative ego. “Underneath it all. “Mark and Jez,” he wrote, “ALWAYS get what they want,” and that inevitably turns out to be terrible. “Getting what you want is a form of hell,” he wrote, “and the Peep Show is nothing more than a complete and terrifying vision of hell.”

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