HBO certainly looks set to continue its streak of must-watch programming for the foreseeable future, with everything from the upcoming Weeknd-led show The Idol to the newly launched White House Plumbers. At the same time, this month will also bring something we rarely see on HBO, or any network for that matter: A night when we say goodbye to not one but two massive series, with both Succession and Barry set to end on May 28.
It will be a huge night for HBO, to say the least, as these shows are both critical darlings, as addictive as anything HBO has given us in years, and responsible for 92 Emmy nominations between them (and 22 wins). Both Succession and Barry are masterpieces, although I’m partial to the former, and both of them also debuted on HBO in 2018 — back when the network was preparing for the end of Game of Thrones one year later.
Game of Thrones taking its bow, of course, was a milestone event for HBO that unleashed a specious flood of news coverage speculating about the uncertain post-Thrones future for the network — a network that, as it turns out, didn’t miss a beat and quickly proved that its Midas touch is still very much intact.
There are no such questions that will follow in the wake of Succession and Barry taking their respective bows, but the moment is worth marking all the same. Especially because of the way both of these HBO shows shocked fans with some pretty huge twists and surprises in their final seasons.
Raise your hand, for example, if you saw [a certain someone’s] death coming so early in the final season of Succession, and the Roy children now thrust ready or not into an all-out, high-stakes endgame for the future of their family’s media empire. Not for nothing, but this season also feels like it’s producing more quotable gems than ever for Succession fans — like the way Cousin Greg compares Logan Roy, while he wanders around his company’s newsroom, to the way Santa Claus might look if he was a hitman.
As for Barry, it’s proven similarly nimble with its final-season storytelling, bringing a “structurally radical” (in the words of co-creator and star Bill Hader) end to what’s proven a bloody and tragicomic gem of an HBO show. In some ways, this series has the more difficult job of tying everything up into a satisfying conclusion, given that the prospect of redemption for a hitman always seemed like a delicate bridge to cross.
All that said, both shows currently have near-perfect critics’ scores on Rotten Tomatoes (99% for Barry, 95% for Succession). Saying goodbye to both of these HBO shows on the same night will no doubt be as satisfying as it is bittersweet.