One of Succession’s great defining characteristics is the fact that the Roy family is not only evil, but also extremely weird. Collectively and individually, every last rotten one of them. In that way, Succession fits with the rest of creator Jesse Armstrong’s depictions of powerful farces, as well as executive producer Adam McKay’s explorations of the right-wing hate machine that clearly both fascinates and scares the hell out of him. This show is a serious exploration of the silly people whose silly grievances cause so many serious problems in the societal downstream.
Through two seasons, we’ve seen the Roys and their retinue (Roytinue?) scheme, plot, betray, humiliate, dehumanize, and bully. Their family business has been described as “hate speech and roller coasters” in a line played for laughs. We’ve seen them cover up rape and manslaughter. We’ve seen the putative hero of the show Chappaquiddick a waiter at a wedding. Succession makes Hamlet look like Barney and Friends.
No doubt many thousands of gallons of internet ink will be spilled discussing those crimes and more in the lead-up to Sunday’s Season 3 premiere. But let’s spare a thought for a lesser crime of the Roys: crimes against the baseball cap.
In Succession, you can’t toss a retiree off a cruise ship without hitting a Roy in an unmarked baseball cap. No doubt you’re familiar with this image, from Season 2’s “Hunting.”
The moment itself has passed into memory, like everything in that episode between the opening credits and Boar on the Floor. But it’s a nice family portrait of Kendall, Logan, and Roman, and it has lived on as a popular header image for Succession coverage.
Here we see Logan and Kendall in similar brown baseball caps, sturdy, cozy, and woolen, but devoid of ornamentation. These kinds of heavy-duty hats had their day in regular society: In the late 2000s, even New Era—Major League Baseball’s official hat supplier—experimented with a cap with earflaps, and it came to prominence during the 2008 World Series, which was played in the hellacious, driving freezing rain of Philadelphia in fall.
The thing is, though, Logan only ever wears some kind of blank baseball cap, even when he’s fairly well shielded from the elements. Blank baseball cap: good for giving Kendall a talking-to.
Good for giving Roman a talking-to.
Good for recreating the Billy Ray Cyrus “Much to Think About” meme from the comfort of one’s private aircraft.
The baseball cap was invented to shield the wearer from the elements and to keep sun and rain and stray hair out of the eyes. And nowadays, it is something of a fashion accessory. But the ones Logan wears are just ostentatiously boring. What kind of sartorial flourish can one find in a dull lump of wool?
Look, Logan is a billion years old and is gonna die soon. The first thing the man did in the show’s first episode was piss on his own wall. He’s not always thinking straight, and even if he is, he’s gonna do what he wants.
But this hat sickness is spreading to the kids.
What is this nonsense from Shiv? This slouchy, formless denim or denim-adjacent abomination she’s disgracing herself by wearing? Where did she even get it—do billionaires have a time machine that they use to only order stuff from L.L. Bean in 1987? Smalls showed up with a hat shaped like this in The Sandlot and the first thing the kids did was make him swap it for something less embarrassing.
HBO released the first teaser for Season 3 of Succession in July, and within the first 10 seconds, we see Kendall trying to calm people down while wearing, you guessed it, a blank baseball cap.
Nobody derives confidence from this sniveling little freak under the best of circumstances. I can’t imagine people are going to listen to him more when he’s dressed like the best man at a Foot Locker mannequin’s wedding. You can do the suit-and-baseball cap look, but have a little self-respect, soul, creativity, verve, whatever. Get a Yankees cap or something with a tasteful designer logo. Anything that doesn’t make you look like you’re in create-a-player mode from EA Sports’ White Collar Crime 22, available for PS5 and Xbox this Thanksgiving.
Part of the reason I’m so heated about this comparatively minor Roy family transgression is that I’m a self-avowed Hat Guy. Some people collect stamps or action figures, I collect baseball caps. Mostly hats from minor league and amateur teams, but sometimes with logos from bands, or artwork I like. A baseball cap is a low-effort way to add a splash of color to an outfit—to make it look like you really thought about which hoodie to pick up off the floor in the morning. And while, say, a normal Cubs or Dodgers hat might as well be invisible, a distinctive logo on a bright green or purple cap could be a conversation starter.
This is, I’m ashamed to say, something of a corruption of the original utilitarian purpose of the baseball cap. This type of hat was created to be a tool—yes, for the target audience of baseball players, but other people too. Today, some of the biggest wealthy real-world proponents of the blank baseball cap are film directors. Their work may not be as demanding physically as that of farmers or even athletes, but they need a hat to keep their vision clear and their heads un-sunburned as much as anyone.
Because of those roots and its links to a universal and enduring bit of Americana, the baseball cap can be a signifier of class or culture. Need to dress up Hollywood hottie Matt Damon as a rugged oil rig worker? Give him a goatee and an accent, sure, but don’t let him rampage across France without his baseball cap. And if you want to talk about billionaires corrupting American working-class iconography through clever use of baseball caps, well, you don’t have to look far for a real-world example.
Perhaps there’s nothing the Roys love enough to wear its emblem on their foreheads. The ranking sports fan of the family seems to be Logan, a lifelong supporter of the Scottish soccer team Hibernian FC. But the show’s costume designers have never put him in Hibs gear. Maybe such an outfit would humanize him too much, make him less of a crankier, Scottish Darth Vader type.
Or perhaps Succession is the latest in a long line of TV and film projects that purposely blank out their characters’ hats. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a longtime adherent to a no-logos-on-hats rule, the ludicrous effects of which have made for tempting blog fodder at this site in the past. And, as stupid as the blank baseball cap looks, introducing a logo can bring unforeseen complications—is it really worth interrogating whether Kendall is a real Yankees fan, and if so, the potential implications? Probably not. It’d be a distraction—to say nothing of hat logos being one more thing to go wrong in continuity.
For instance, in 2001’s Spy Game, Brad Pitt’s character wears a San Diego Padres cap through the third act of the film. It’s a nice touch—the hat is appropriate for Pitt’s character, who’s from California and is posing undercover as a photographer in sunny Beirut. Only the Beirut scenes of the film are set in 1985, and Pitt’s wearing a blue cap with white and orange lettering that the Padres wouldn’t adopt until 1991. The time-traveling hat isn’t a film-sinking anachronism, but it’s an unforced error that producers and directors would prefer to avoid.
But here’s the thing. Super-rich people actually wear blank baseball caps in real life. Billionaires often seem to think it’s good to dress in an understated, “classy” manner. Subtle tones and colors, rich textile patterns, no glitz and glitter, as if the rest of us will resent the boot on our necks less if it only comes in matte black. If I were as rich as the Roys, I wouldn’t wear a logo on a baseball cap either. But then again, the only thing I’d put on my plutocratic noggin would be a jewel-encrusted helmet for safety while my chauffeur drove my Bugatti down the sidewalk.
The real-life clothiers who costume the Roys offer a selection of unadorned baseball caps at a predictable markup. For normal people, the Cadillac of hats is the New Era 59FIFTY, a rugged fitted flat brim that makes up at least two-thirds of my own personal collection. While custom and special-edition versions can cost more, a garden variety 59FIFTY will run you somewhere around $35, plus tax and shipping. The absolute most expensive product on the New Era website is $88.
Kendall Roy favorite Brunello Cucinelli, meanwhile, offers a dark gray wool flannel cap that looks like a Walmart hat that got lost in a barbecue pit. It costs $495. In order to find it on their website, you have to go to the drop-down menu labeled “Accessories,” presumably because if your manservant hears you’re shopping in the “Hats” section, he won’t respect you anymore.
Another Roy family haberdasher, Loro Piana, offers a variety of baseball caps. Several of them come in bright colors with tasteful logos and attractive white trim on the bill. Good stuff, if a smidgen overpriced at $385. But the crown jewel of the collection is called, in characteristically minimalist fashion, “Baseball Cap.” The price, $1,395, is anything but minimalist. This cap is also made of wool, but not just any wool—this is a blend. Some of the fiber comes from the vicuña, a South American camelid of the same genus as the llama and alpaca; the rest is baby cashmere, which I was surprised to learn comes from goats and not human babies. No doubt the bloodthirsty Logan was operating under a similar impression. When he finds out, I’m sure he’s going to flip his proverbial lid.