Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Succession's theme song also suits another tale of familial corporate intrigue: Billy Madison

Screenshot: Succession (Graeme Hunter); Billy Madison

Tales of fathers, sons, and the legacies the former passes onto the latter are as old as time—who, for example, would the humble cavemen choose to preserve and elaborate upon their primitive etchings? HBO’s Succession, the story of a media conglomerate and the family vying for control of it, is but the latest, and it draws upon no shortage of old stories to tell its tale, from King Lear to, we’d wager, 1995's Billy Madison.

Of course, Billy Madison, being an Adam Sandler vehicle, buried its story of a ne’er-do-well stepping up to the plate of power—it’s not unlike Shakespeare in that sense—in the poop-flaming pranks and pieces of ace expected of the star, but a simple score adjustment brings it back to the forefront. Comedian and video whiz Jesse McLaren proved as much by weaving Nicholas Britell’s Emmy-winning Succession theme over the action of Billy Madison, finally rendering Bradley Whitford’s sniveling Eric the appropriate shades of Machiavellian.


Disgraced principal Max, Steve Buscemi’s weirdo, and that damn penguin all take on an air of mystery against the twinkling, ominous keys and strings, as does the assumed death of the O’Doyle clan, whose off-roading station wagon evokes a similar accident from the end of Succession’s first season. Will anyone ever be held accountable? A question for the ages.

Be sure to keep up with our recaps of Succession’s second season, which is seriously on some next-level shit right now.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.