You already know what a Covid-19 storyline on Succession would more or less entail. The Roy family would allow their ATN news network to pump out a steady stream of disease and vaccine denialism all while the family itself would keep themselves as hermetically sealed off from the masses as possible (an occasional drug deal or extramarital tryst aside) until they paid whatever money they needed to in order to jump the vaccine line. Everyone except Connor, who would remain a Covid skeptic until he caught it and try to cure himself with pig dewormer. Cousin Greg, despite being the most careful, would probably catch a post-vaccine breakthrough case because he just has that kind of luck. Eventually, the company is suited for ATN’s irresponsible coverage, which only really registers because Shiv sees it as a way to seize control once and for all.
However, you will not see anything unlike that unfold when the HBO series returns in October. The show is just going to pretend the pandemic never happened, which is probably for the best.
In an expansive New York story, the cast confirmed that the season three scripts were finalized before the pandemic took hold, and that creator Jesse Armstrong saw no reason to incorporate it into the scripts afterward. “These are really wealthy people,” Sarah Snook, who plays Shiv, told the magazine. “And unfortunately, none of the world’s really wealthy people were going to be affected by the pandemic.” This isn’t entirely true, but their response to the situation would be predictable enough.
Besides, the show is already in the middle of what seems like a tightly scripted storyline, and we aren’t necessarily curious enough to see how the pandemic would impact it. It’s a piece of fiction after all, so let it play out in its own fictional universe. It’s a mirror to society, but it doesn’t have to be a perfectly angled one. The show is clearly inspired by the culture that led up to Donald Trump being elected in our universe, but Trump isn’t actually President in the Roy’s universe (Wait, when is that presidential election supposed to happen in the Succession-verse anyway …and can we still vote for Gil?).
Television series have had mixed approaches to incorporating the pandemic. A few have incorporated it fully. Others have given brief nods to the reality, often to surreal effect (in HBO Max’s Gossip Girl, we’re to understand that it happened, but everything is 100 percent better now). Many have just ignored it, which is fine. We already lived it. We don’t need to see how every last one of our TV friends would have dealt with it, especially if it just gets in the way of the wider storyline we’re watching that show for in the first place.