SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses the eighth episode of season four of “Succession,” which aired on HBO on Sunday.
“Succession” fans on Sunday had one word to describe their viewing experience: triggering.
“America Decides,” the eighth episode in the fourth season, was set in the fictional ATN newsroom during a close election night between far-right Republican nominee Jeryd Mencken and center-left Democratic nominee Daniel Jimenez.
Without patriarch Logan Roy at the helm of Waystar Royco, the Roy siblings were calling the election night shots for the first time, navigating how to get ATN the most views — even if it meant airing misinformation and calling key swing state results early.
The result? Chaos, anxiety and a whole lot of déjà vu for viewers, many whom had followed real election coverage from home for the last two cycles.
“Jesse Armstrong you must pay for our therapy putting us through election PTSD how dare you,” one fan tweeted, calling out the “Succession” creator by name.
“Watching election coverage, even for a fictional election, is triggering,” wrote one user.
“Me tuning into #Succession to be entertained but instead having to revisit the trauma of the past two elections & be confronted with the truth of the corrupt capitalist hellscape in which we live,” another person tweeted.
A pivotal plot point during the episode involved a firebombing of a Milwaukee polling center, which some swing state voters said particularly gave them anxiety. Wisconsin was called early by ATN, giving Mencken a big lead in the fictional race.
“as a Wisconsinite who stayed up until the wee hours in 2020 anxiously awaiting Milwaukee’s ballot count that episode of Succession was for real triggering,” one person tweeted.
The episode was also a tough watch for journalists, some who shared memories of their own newsroom experiences on stressful election nights.
“Good God. As a former journalist this episode of Succession is making me crazy,” wrote one user.
“Tonight’s ‘Succession’ is so triggering for anyone who has ever worked in a newsroom, had something go wrong during a busy news day/night, and had a manager who literally does not know how anything works run up to them and start freaking out as if that’s going to help AT ALL,” added another user.
One “Succession” fan, a former journalist, said they usually like to rewatch episodes. But not this one.
“I usually watch each episode of @succession at least twice, often in one night,” they wrote. “But as a former TV journalist who covered 11 presidential elections and who knows how many state and local elections, I’m gonna need a night or two to recover.”