Shiv Roy’s Hair in “Succession” Is a Tragedy In 3 Acts
“Succession” season 4 has arrived, and with it, the internecine power struggles we’ve come to expect from the Roy family. We’ve examined the hidden-meaning-packed sartorial choices of our favourite cast of characters and now we’re dipping our toes into the under-analysed world of “Succession” hair and beauty looks.
The Hidden Meaning Behind the Hair Looks on Succession
Angel De Angelis, hair director on “Succession”, is a deep thinker who brings a lot of intention to each character’s coiffeur.
In 2021, she told Coveteur back in 2021 that she studied the Murdoch family closely for when seeking inspiration for the Roy families’ coiffures, along with her own experiences on the shop floor of high-end New York department stores. “When I started in this business, I was working in Bergdorf Goodman,” she reflected. “I saw high society… These people did not own their hair. But they had to look a certain way and show their wealth and status through their appearance.”
While fashion is cultural and political, beauty is intimate. We can, to a degree, control what we wear. But we can’t always control our skin and hair. Whether it’s stress breakouts, sleepless nights or “I haven’t made it to my hair appointment because my life is spiralling out of control” exposed roots, our bodies often tell stories about our lives just when we don’t want them to.
So, with this in mind, we’re taking a closer look at Shiv’s hair which has transformed just as much as her wardrobe across three television seasons.
While clothes come on and off (frequently for Roy’s most sexually adventurous family member), hair is a commitment, something Shiv likes to steer clear of.
So, we played detective and scrolled through Shiv’s hair evolution, tracking her complex emotional arc in the process.
Season One: Botticelli Waves
In season one, Shiv is at her cool-girl zenith. She’s the only Roy child with a capital C career working outside the family business. Indeed, as a political consultant for democratic candidates Joyce Miller, and later Bernie Sanders-esque figure Gil Eavis, her interests are often directly opposed to those of her Murdoch-esque dad and his right-leaning news operation.
Shiv wears her hair artfully tousled in loose waves and a natural, strawberry blonde colour that fits tonally with her wardrobe of loose slacks, silks and warm autumnal colours autumnal tones.
While Shiv has a moral high horse to match her Lady Godiva locks, she’s also a lot of fun. She wrestles with her little brother in public, cheats on her social climber husband and seems like the kind of girl at the office you’d go for after-work drinks with. Her dad feels the same and often turns to her for her opinion.
Shiv finishes Season 1 with her strawberry blonde curls perfectly pinned, her husband under her thumb and having negotiated an alliance with a democratic candidate, the sun shining on from. She’s both goldilocks and the golden girl.
Season 2: Blunt Bob
We’ll never know what would happen if a woman with long wavy hair walked the halls of Waystar Royco, because it’s never happened.
Women who work at Waystar Royco have short hair or tight-up dos. When hair does appear long, like Kery’s later in Season 3, it’s blunt and sleek.
Meanwhile, women outside the business, notably girlfriends and wives like Roman’s girlfriend Tabitha, Connor’s Willa and Kendall’s ex-wife Rava have long hair. The only exception is Naomi Pierce, but she works in media. It’s enough to make a writer with long locks wonder if she should get a pixie cut, or get out of journalism.
In season 2, Shiv chops her locks after being persuaded by her father to join the family business, the unspoken promise of the top job as a lure.
Her style takes a three-point turn with high-waisted pants, Elizabeth Holmes-esque turtlenecks and a presumably Keratin-treatment-ed within an inch of its life sleek blunt bob in place.
Despite being all business, Shiv’s new to the business. Her haircut is optimised for storming in and out of rooms, which she does frequently, finding herself cut out of important meetings, talked over and sabotaged at every turn as she learns life inside Waystar requires more than a razor-cut bob.
Season 3: She’s Lost Control
Anna Wintour, who gets her fringe trimmed twice a week, is another powerful woman in media who could tell Shiv keeping up a sleek bob is a lot of work.
In Season 3 as Shiv’s frustration increases, her cropped cut gets a little more dishevelled. It must be from all that banging her head against a glass ceiling.
At Kendall’s birthday party she wears an emerald green dress (a stark departure from the greiges we’ve seen her in since season two) and loose, Hepburnesque pin curls. It’s a bad night. She finds Roman has cut a deal behind her back. He then accuses her in public of being sad her husband won’t be going to prison. We get the vibe that maybe she is.
As the happy family heads to Italy for their mother’s wedding, Shiv’s bob is looking less-than-intentionally wavy. There’s a kink, curl, and could we suggest… fray to it that matches her nerves. Italian water is hard on a blowdry at the best of times, but if we’re reading thematically, our favourite ethically dubious girl boss has lost control of her look and her life.
What’s It All About?
Having hopped down from her high horse, Shiv doesn’t like the scenery, but there’s no clambering back up. Moreover, she’s stuck with a husband slipping out from under her thumb, demanding a baby, and finally stabbing her in the back.
By the end of season 3, Siobhan Roy has intimidated a witness, backed Republican candidates, crawled to her father and was reduced to the level of the siblings she used to mock. Finally, she’s betrayed by her husband, losing the last bit of power she thought she had.
Shiv has learnt what many women learn: just like getting a bob, maintaining your place in a boy’s club is an enormous amount of work and infrequently worth the effort. While she can decamp whenever she wants to, it will take a while for the bob to grow out. We’d suggest hair extensions, but by the looks of episode 1, season 4, they’re not incoming, and she’ll be fighting it out to the end.