Waystar Royco’s holdings—Hollywood studios, cruise lines, newspapers, theme parks, and a right-wing news channel made by royalty—make Ewing Oil look like a franchised gas station. We know only vaguely how Logan Roy built his empire, but it was enabled in part by media consolidation and the deregulation of antitrust, beginning with the “Dallas”/Reagan era, that allowed his real-life counterparts like Rupert Murdoch to make mounds of their own.
Meanwhile, smaller television audiences in the era of cable and streaming have allowed “Caliphate” to flourish as more niche and more niche entertainment. A series in the three-network era had to attract tens of millions of people just to stay on the air — “Dallas” needed to offer a crowd-pleaser barbecue. “Succession” can be a rare, decadent treat, like the ortolan, the fried, whole-eaten songbird featured in a memorable meal in season one.
Dallas, like its sequels from “Dynasty” to “Empire,” was in the popular series tradition of letting audiences revel in the ravages of the rich. Her characters were like ours—jealous, envious, heartbroken—only with more money and less happiness.
“Caliphate” has its crowd-pleasing cosmic elements, too. Logan was an irresistible savage who was able to stuff the sentiments of Shakespeare’s soliloquy into a two-word curse. Roy’s children—Kendall, Roman, and Shiv, and his half-brother Connor—developed a survivor bond and survival instincts; One joins in the group hug, the other holding a dagger. Basically, the family themes of the series are simple talk shows: hurting people hurting people.
But her voice is, as defined by the creator, Jesse Armstrong, strong and relatable; Its details require a range of knowledge or at least an aptitude for Google. As Logan is laid to rest in a shrine he bought for $5 million from an online pet supply tycoon—the last cold, expensive residence—Chef jokes, “Ozymandias cat food.”