Estate and 8 other shows about family business empires
Business shows are in spades, but when it comes to family businesses, the stakes are even higher. There are a few shows that feature small family businesses, like Cattleman’s Ranch at Fresh off the boat Where Bob’s Burgers in the show of the same name. But thinking bigger, some fictional TV families have fictional businesses that are empires, making waves across the country and beyond.
Succession is, of course, one of the most quoted shows of this ilk. But there are plenty more, including ones that have aired for multiple seasons and other brand-new shows joining the mix.
Succession (2018-Present) – HBO
At the center of this satirical comedy-drama is the Roy family, owners of media conglomerate WayStar Royco. With its hand in everything from TV news to cruise ships and magazines, Waystar Royco is one of the most powerful fictional companies on a TV show. Although patriarch Logan Roy has no desire to step down, he realizes the writing is on the wall and he must decide who will take over once he is no longer able to do so.
The focus is on family discord and the greed, arrogance and immaturity of her four children, each of whom feels they should be in a position of power, which is both heartbreaking and hilarious. When it comes to extravagance, opulence and the “money is not a problem” attitude, the Roys have it all.
Promised Land (2022) – ABC
Double Succession Featuring Latino characters and with wine as his core business, this new family drama follows Joe Sandoval and his blended families in California where he runs his successful winery. After years of hard work to realize his American Dream and leading the company for decades, Joe is ready to retire. But which of his five children is qualified enough to occupy himself in the direction he wishes?
In Promised landJoe faces unique challenges, ranging from undocumented immigrants to a rival hotel owner and a bloodthirsty ex-wife.
Empire (2015-2020) – Fox
As the name suggests, this musical drama is about an empire in the music business, and indeed, it is owned by one family, the Lyons. While Lucious runs the day-to-day on Empirehe receives a tragic health diagnosis that leaves him with no choice but to prepare to hand over to someone else.
While he initially thinks it will be one of his three sons, a wrench is thrown into the plans when Lucious’ ex Cookie is released from prison and thinks it’s her right to take over. Meanwhile, Lucious pits his sons against each other in a bid to see who has what it takes.
The Righteous Gemstones (2019–present) – HBO
John Goodman, Edi Patterson and Adam DeVine star in this dark comedy about a family of televangelists who take the word of the lord through their mega-church and then live behind the scenes, all thanks to generous donations from the church. Each of the characters on Virtuous Gemstones is funny in its own way.
Even with mega-churches, however, it’s all about business. At Virtuous Gemstones the family is determined to grow, while bankrupting other small churches in the process. Like the other shows, there’s a greedy patriarch and immature kids who don’t quite have what it takes, but love to reap the benefits of the family business.
The Kings of Napa (2022) – CLEAN
The Oprah Winfrey Network has gotten in the ring with this new soap opera about the King family working in the wine industry. Rather than the patriarch having to choose who will take over, however, he sadly passes away, leaving his three children to fend for themselves on the business side unprepared.
Naturally, they each have their own idea of how things should be handled, and there’s a lot of heads, heavy drama, lies, backstabbing, and all the other elements typical of the genre.
Arrested Development (2003-2019) – Fox, Netflix
George Bluth Jr. is the patriarch of the Bluth Company family business on Development stopped. Once a wealthy real estate investor, after being arrested for fraud, his family has to figure things out. While they are technically no longer wealthy and their empire is in ruins, they continue to live as if they are.
His son Michael Bluth was ready to leave the company just before his father’s arrest, frustrated at being constantly overlooked for a management position. With the company in the hands of her mother Lucille, she hilariously appoints Michael’s completely inexperienced younger brother, Buster, to run things, though Michael is clearly the right choice. Nonetheless, regardless of the reservations, Michael eventually finds himself taking over the business in the hopes that it will help keep his quirky, quirky family together.
The Crown (2016-Present) – Netflix
Yes, it’s the monarchy, but it’s still a business, and Queen Elizabeth II still sits on the throne, well past her 90s. Praised for its accuracy and its attempt to stay as true to the facts as possible, The crownone of the best TV shows of 2020, tells the story of how Queen Elizabeth II was cast in the limelight to take control of a leadership position after the death of her father.
Not only does she face serving as Queen of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms, but she also faces the challenge of being a woman taking the job instead of a man since she had no male siblings. Although there is less swearing and low humor in this show compared to others of the Family Empire variety, The crown still includes the same drama, scandal, politics and power struggles. It’s just much more majestic in depiction as Queen Elizabeth battles her family members, as well as other forces.
Dynasty (2017-Present) – The CW
About as soapy as they come, no plot direction is too silly or amazing to Dynasty, much like the original 1980s soap opera of the same name on which it is based. In fact, there were even twists on Dynasty no one saw it coming. The Carringtons have obscene wealth from their massive Carrington Atlantic conglomerate, and they’re not afraid to show it.
Along with the billions, however, there’s plenty of family drama, including a daughter desperate to make something of herself out of her father’s shadow, illegitimate children and siblings who pop up out of nowhere to taking their part, and even benevolent children who speak out against all that family stands for, threatening reputation. Each Carrington grew up getting what they wanted, so no one is ever ready to back down.
Family Business (2019-2021) – Netflix
This French series follows a small family business operating in a big pond > when marijuana is legalized in France, Joseph decides that the family butcher shop would make a lot more money if it switched to this new business. And so the kosher butcher becomes a marijuana coffeeshop.
Qualified as a comedy, the series has been well commented by the fans. While the family may not have billions, they are on the right path with every intention of eventually building their own empire.
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