Milwaukee Was the Linchpin of Democracy in Last Night’s ‘Succession’

The hit HBO show put a frightening Wisconsin election scenario front and center.

Are you watching “Succession” right now? Because if you’re not, you really, really, really, really, really should. I would add more “reallys”, but I think you get it. It’s the best show on TV right now, and there are only two more episodes left in the entire series. And last night, as I have every Sunday for the past eight weeks, I sat alone in my attic, carefully watching every second of the latest episode.

Now, I love Wisconsin, but the billionaire power-playing characters on “Succession” almost certainly do not. If they were to describe our state, they would likely refer to it as something along the lines of “nowhere backwards f—ing beer-swill, brat-stroking, cheese-molester country.” Hence, I never expected to see our beloved state get much representation on the show. But last night, in a shocking twist, Milwaukee was front and center.

Ok, some light spoilers from here on out. If you want to watch the episode first, go ahead.


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So last night was the election episode: super-right-wing Mencken vs. liberal Jimenez. And the results all came down to the 414. 

Early in the episode, the Roys and Roy-adjacents were informed that a voting center in Cream City was burning. Was it a right-wing militia squad? Was it leftie anarchists? Was it an electrical fire? Does truth even mean anything anymore? Clearly not, because what actually happened to the voting center didn’t matter. All that mattered was whether ATN called Wisconsin despite the 100,000 votes that were destroyed – votes that almost certainly would have gone to Jimenez. (The “Succession” writers know which way Milwaukee’s politics swing.)

The episode’s central conflict revolved around whether or not ATN should call Wisconsin and effectively (and kinda illegitimately) crown Mencken president, despite those missing votes. I won’t go into all the ins and outs of the plot, but suffice it to say the results made for a great night of TV.

I never expected to hear Roman Roy say “Wisconsin” and/or “Milwaukee” that many times without insulting us even once. While the episode was harrowing, that was a lot of fun.

But what I found especially interesting was the post-episode behind-the-scenes segment, in which the show’s creator, Jesse Armstrong, shared that the writing staff worked with political insiders to craft just the right scenario for this episode. The goal was to present a realistic dilemma that could actually happen during a presidential election, and they landed on burnt votes in Milwaukee. Which makes the episode even more engrossing, as it’s not that far from something that could actually go down with Wisconsin’s heavy rural-urban political divide and crucial position as a swing state. (I used the word “engrossing” in that last sentence, but “terrifying” might be a better fit.)

So that episode was phenomenal. And while the final two episodes probably won’t be so Milwaukee-centric (unless Kendall flees to Oshkosh to escape the weight of his actions and surf some sick waves), I know I’ll be glued to the TV. 

Inside the Episode: 



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.