Who is Succession‘s Number One Boy?
My favorite current television show returns tomorrow: Succession. I don’t know that I realized it was my favorite show until I found myself so completely overcome with excitement for the arrival of the third season.
And in my anticipation of it, I did something I have done a few times: I rewatched the previous seasons. More than once. Throughout my watching, I repeatedly found myself thinking about the meme of the Large Adult Son.
Note: this article contains spoilers and character rankings for the first two seasons of Succession, but has not yet been updated to include spoilers for the third season or predictions for the fourth.
Your Brief Guide to The Large Adult Son Meme
One of my favorite memes from the post-Obama era is that of the Large Adult Son. This meme has been well-documented across the internet but I will nonetheless recap it here for the uninitiated. Variants of the meme began in 2012 or so, with the first official usage of it appearing in 2015 in a meme about the Huckabee family.
- An adult man who can be classified by his father as “a good boy”
- A full-grown young men with childish qualities
- Grown men who, according to The Cut, “mostly just sit around and play with all of their inherited wealth”
- Buffoons who engage in general buffoonery, with size being a quality. In the original Huckabee LAS meme, the sheer size of the sons is a major aspect of the humor.
Many good articles have written about the large adult son meme. There’s an excellent article in Mel Magazine explaining why Fredo Corleone is too tragic to be a true large adult son, but that AJ Soprano is an all-time great in the category. Their definition of LASs is “thirtysomething dudes of no ability who are only saved from the gutter by the charity of their parents and the privilege into which they were born.” There’s also the overlap between wife guys and large adult sons, two connected memes, as documented in this Guardian article.
Real examples of the large adult son appear in families like the Trumps, the Kochs, and the Gulianis. In retrospect, Ted Kennedy seems a large adult son, as do many of his living relations. George W. Bush might be the first LAS of the 21st century—with hollow-earther John Quincy Adams as an early prototype in the presidency.
And yes, contemporary large adult sons exist on the left as much as they do on the right, with Hunter Biden being the reigning LAS prince.
The Large Adult Sons of the Roy Family: The True Succession Character Rankings
A Vulture article from 2018 is the only piece of internet journalism I’ve seen that captures the extent to which the Large Adult Son meme is personified in Succession. While that article is about Lon Cheney, Jr—who the author argues is the original Large Adult Son of Horror’s Golden Era—it contains this summary of the Roy family’s LAS status:
Large Adult Sons even get their own prestige drama this year with HBO’s Succession, in which three sons and one daughter (who otherwise fits the Large Adult Son model) grapple with who will take over as the heir to a Rupert Murdoch–like tycoon, seemingly not realizing that none of them are not really up to the task. Even if they share their father’s name and grew up steeped in the world he created, they don’t really have what it takes to get the job done.
While I largely agree with that characterization—particularly the first season of the show—I think it’s worth taking the time to examine the LAS qualities of each member of the Roy family.
And if you’ve made it this far, I should warn you: spoilers abound for the first two seasons of Succession from here on out.
One more note: below you’ll see a promotional image for season 3. It’s important to note that there were three different version of this released, all indicating different character alignments, with the only constant being Kendall and Logan.
Not Qualifying for consideration as a large adult son:
Logan, Frank, Marcia, or any of the other secondary characters (but there are two technical non-Roys and one non-biological relation who do make the list.)
The Large Adult Son Succession Power Rankings
Siobhan “Shiv” Roy
Easily the least large-adult-son-esque of the large adult Roy children, Shiv is neither large nor a son. But she is angling for the top position in the company—and she appears to not only be her father’s choice for the big job, but also his favorite child.
But aside from size and gender, Shiv has many other qualities that make her un-LAS-ish. She’s the only Roy child at the beginning of Succession’s first season with a job entirely separate from the Roy business or money, and her choice of a job—political manager for left-leaning candidates—puts her at odds with the rest of the family.
Most Large Adult Son Moment: I think Shiv’s most LAS quality has to be her choice of a mate. Tom is an LAS in every way she isn’t. She doesn’t work for her father, but he does. He’s the Large Adult Son-in-Law—which is why we’ll talk more about him lower on the list.
Least Large Adult Son Moment: The panel in Season 2 in which Shiv references her father as a dinosaur and says that women are about to have their moment.
Will Shiv be a Large Adult Son in Season 3? It seems Shiv is destined to become more aligned with her father as the series goes and will adopt increasingly more LAS-ish qualities. Is this a good thing? Probably not, but I think it’s likely it’s the trajectory she’s on.
Gregory “Cousin Greg” Hirsch
Of the male relations in Succession, Greg might initially seem like the least large adult son of any of them, as he appears to be a genuinely good person.
Although, that’s one of the questions about large adult sons. Are they inherently good or bad?
He’s a walking joke, a parody of himself. He owes his job solely to nepotism and his promotion to casual extortion, and when he name-drops his way to his nepotistic career in the second episode, he isn’t on any list and doesn’t know the last name of his soon-to-be cousin-in-law, Tom.
And as far as childish antics go, don’t forget that he’s one of two characters to wear a mascot suit at the theme park, but the only one to have smoked a joint before putting on the costume and subsequently vomited out of the mascot’s eye holes.
But wait. He isn’t a son of any character on the show. He’s not even of the same generation or direct lineage as the rest of the characters, being the grandson of Logan’s brother. Should we include him on this list? Yes. But while his antics are often LAS-ish, Greg was raised less silver-spoon than the rest and has worked a little harder than most of the others to get where he is, even if blackmail is included.
Finally, Greg’s final act in season 2 is decidedly un-LAS-ish.
Most Large Adult Son Moment: A certain moments, Greg completely nails the large adult son meme. Vomiting out of the eyes of a mascot costume at a theme park owned by his great-uncle and subsequently moving to New York City to work for the large business owned by his great-uncle.
Although his congressional testimony is a close second:
Least Large Adult Son Moment: Conspiring with Kendall to bring down Logan Roy.
Will Greg be a Large Adult Son in Season 3? I think Greg is on an opposite trajectory to Shiv. He’s going to stay aligned with Kendall (discussed further below). Although, does that make him a Large Adult Cousin in relation to Kendall? Is he still nothing without nepotism?
What makes Kendall an outlier in the realm of the large adult son is that he’s the only of the Roy children to openly break rank with his father, doing so in major ways twice in the first season (boardroom coup; bear hug) and during the final moments of the second season (sabotage press conference where he comes at the king).
The moment Kendall says but in his final monologue in Succession’s season two finale is the moment he makes himself permanently not the large adult son.
Yet he was the one originally chosen for the throne upon Logan’s once-promised retirement. This alone could be an argument either for large adult son status—the favorite—or against, as he has a degree of competism that allows him to work in the company at high levels not owing to pure nepotism. Or wait, is this true? Don Jr. also has some pretty big jobs and he’s pure large adult son.
And most of season 2 is spent dismal servitude for this father, including his embarrassing “L to the OG” rap.
Then there’s Logan’s final expression. That very slight smile. Is Logan proud of Kendall for subverting and attacking him publicly?
Most Large Adult Son Moment: The end of season one. Kendall has killed someone (accidentally, but still) and Logan has committed to covering it up. They embrace, with Logan’s words “my number one boy.” Is it not the dream of every Large Adult Son to be a Number One Boy?
Least Large Adult Son Moment: End of Season 2, when he comes at the king and does not miss.
Will Kendall be a Large Adult Son in Season 3? No. While his general relationship with his father has been hot and cold, in and out, it looks like Season 3 has us on a permanent track for Kendall’s complete break with Logan to be taking him permanently out of LAS territory.
Let’s begin with the obvious: Tom is the largest of the main cast, looming and bumbling above the rest. Sure, Greg is taller, but Greg is also thinner and, despite his height, moves in a diminutive way and makes himself an ongoing subject for bullying. Tom is the bully who views Greg as easy prey, the one person present whose status remains below his own.
As mentioned above, Tom wears ill-fitting suits and owes his ongoing promotions to the specific form of nepotism afforded to in-laws. He has an obsession with money and power—although, unlike most of the other people on this list, he wasn’t raised in it. He makes a fool of himself repeatedly, including at his own bachelor party. He says and does foolish things as if that’s his job. His first scene centers around him deliberating over what to get Logan Roy, seeking a gift that says “I need you to like me.” While he attempts to draw the line around things like neo-Nazis working for him, he doesn’t view racism and sexism as dealbreakers and is still an ultimate yes-man who owes his entire position to Shiv being his life partner.
Most Large Adult Son Moment: His congressional testimony is an all-time greatest hit.
Least Large Adult Son Moment: His maybe breakup speech to Shiv in the season 2 finale. A huge moment for both Tom and the actor.
Will Tom be a Large Adult Son in Season 3? This one is almost impossible to predict. Is the Greg-Tom alliance broken? Are Shiv and Tom staying together? Is Tom staying at RoystarWayco?
Romulus “Roman” Roy
Both the most childlike (at least at first glance) and the smallest in stature, Roman is definitely not “large”. But his behavior is pure LAS territory. He has never had a job outside the business company and he has failed in the jobs he has had. He is sent to management school by the family, but doesn’t seem to learn anything there. He masturbates in his office. He produces a film that bombs. He claims to read a lot, pretends to have read a book and invents one on the spot instead—The Electric Circus by Timothy Lipton—leading people to try to google it and ask him if he’s sure he has the title right. He tries to broker a deal that blows up in his face so dramatically that it leads to everyone playing Boar on the Floor at the corporate retreat.
(As an aside, Roman’s inability to name a book he’s read riffs on the same theme as Jesse Armstrong’s earlier work, Peep Show, in which Jeremy routinely struggles to discuss books. See the below.)
Roman also ranks alongside Greg as one of the only two characters to have worn a mascot costume at a company-owned theme park.
There is only one more character with more LAS qualities than Roman, and that’s Connor.
Most Large Adult Son Moment: Who can forget the moment he pushes a rocket launch forward and it quite literally blows up in his face?
Least Large Adult Son Moment: Mocking his father, something he does several times throughout the series—including the moment when his father slaps him for it and Roman loses a tooth.
Will Roman be a Large Adult Son in Season 3? Of course—although it seems like the family member he is most loyal to is Shiv, so a lot will depend on her actions.
Connor “Con” Roy
Connor is the purest Large Adult Son in Succession. He’s up there with final-season AJ Soprano and GOB Bluth and some of the most essential Large Adult Sons television has ever seen. He’s also, literally, the number one boy of the Roy family, being the firstborn.
Connor Roy lives on a ranch his father’s money bought him. He has no job. He gets an allowance. He is belittling and temperamental on the occasions he is given any kind of power, especially. the gala in season one. He is “going steady” with a sex worker. When the sex worker in question points out that he doesn’t have a job, he decides to run for president. He dumps money into a failing play and has to ask for more from his father. He has memes made about him and fans who call themselves Conheads. He has less self-awareness than any other character on the show—and maybe any character either in the history of television.
And of course, who could forget the moment when his gift for his father’s birthday party is a sourdough starter.
Most Large Adult Son Moment: All the above.
Least Large Adult Son Moment: There isn’t one.
Will Connor be a Large Adult Son in Season 3? There’s no way he couldn’t be.