“Succession,” true to its title, is basically a modern-day “King Lear” — the story of an aged and mercurial tyrant who is set to step down while his children squabble for their birthright. “The Fall of the House of Usher” does something a bit different. Only eldest son Frederick Usher (Henry Thomas) is actually eyeing to succeed his father as Fortunato’s CEO. The others are all trying to carve out their own mark on the world. Tamerlane (Samantha Sloyan) is the founder of a fitness brand. Victorine (T’Nia Miller) is developing a new type of pacemaker. Napoleon (Rahul Kohli) owns a video game development company. Camille (Kate Siegel) runs Fortunato’s PR department. Prospero (Sauriyan Sapkota) is an aspiring nightclub mogul.
Episodes 2-7 each focus on one of the Usher siblings, mirroring the structure of Flanagan’s previous family horror-drama for Netflix, “The Haunting of Hill House.” In the time we spend with them, we realize how deep in their father’s shadow they are. Each project is funded by Roderick at his own behest; he wants his children following in his footsteps to “change the world,” and they do so in the hope of winning his approval. As in “Succession,” none of the children can truly measure up to their father because they were raised only to be extensions of his will.
The baby boomer generation holding onto power past their prime is a timely theme. The consequences of that become apparent in the finale when we see the deal with the devil that Roderick and Madeline made; the ghostly Verna (Carla Gugino) tells them that “the next generation will foot the bill” for their wealth. Rich parents will happily let their children drown to hold onto their own ill-gotten comfort.
In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” though, no one is immune from the debt coming due.