How the Extremely Online Fanbase Was Born

Since they first appeared on screen in 2018, the characters of HBO’s Succession have surprisingly stolen the hearts of millions of viewers. Despite their wavering politics, the show has been sympathetic to its characters, showing them as multifaceted—albeit immoral—people who make mistakes and suffer the consequences. These characters have resulted in Emmy wins for their actors, much-discussed profiles, and, most important of all, countless fanworks.

With the return of Succession on Sunday, it’s time to acknowledge some of the most integral aspects of the show’s success: the fancams and their editors.

A fancam, while similar to a fan edit, is a video focused on a character or actor, set to music and edited through different softwares. While fan edits have been around for decades, fancams are quite new, splicing clips together and pairing them with music that may or may not fit the characters vibe, giving you a glimpse at a show or character a creator wants you to love. Fan edits typically try to tell a story, while fancams are more interested in a moment.

In the Succession fandom, fancams allow new and old viewers to indulge in the campiness (and tenderness) of their favorite show. The most acclaimed is no doubt the Logan Roy “rolling with the LGBT” fancam, whose reputation is known even outside of the core fandom. The video edits together scenes of the show’s patriarch (played by Brian Cox), set to the rapper CupcakKe’s song “Lgbt,” splicing clips of Logan to make him seem like a gay ally.

Made by user @k3nd4llr0y, fancams like these take a certain amount of skill, overlaying gay pride flags over Logan’s face, and editing scenes of him saying “yes” to make it sound like “yas.” The expertly made, hilarious clip has garnered more than 600,000 views on Twitter alone.

While it may seem silly to outsiders, the popularity of this specific video led me and many others to dive into the world of the Succession fancam. What I found were tender odes to the Roy siblings set to Phoebe Bridgers songs and longer fan edits of Kendall Roy’s downward spiral scored by Mitski tracks. There’s immense creative talent present within the fandom, which may come as a shock considering many of these editors are in their late teens or early twenties. The dedication is not only admirable but also influential, as these creators’ work has no doubt led to more people watching the show.

Fancams have become a core part of the show’s popularity, especially among a younger audience. When it first began, Succession came across like a typical awards vehicle for HBO—not something exactly catering to people who were very online. But during the pandemic, new fans found the show and made their love known with all kinds of original works, from fancams to fanfic.

“I think the way [fancams] present the show makes it appealing to a younger audience,” says May, a film student. She’s also the editor of an excellent Shiv Roy fancam set to Beyoncé’s “American Has a Problem.” “[They focus] on the characters, highlight the relationships [and] dynamics in the show, and show the funnier […] aspects.”

While most Succession fancams focus on one specific character at a time, there are ones that have focused on the queer dynamics in the show, which has also caused its queer audience to grow. One popular subgenre features Kendall Roy’s (platonic) relationship with his childhood friend Stewy Hosseini. With these fancams, editors are able to isolate scenes and re-contextualize them into something romantic. With longer edits, they’re able to elongate small moments in the show. These not only can convince queer viewers that the two characters are in love, but they can also successfully encourage them to watch the show and get invested in the relationship themselves.

Back in the biggest days of Tumblr, gif-makers would do the same thing: editing together scenes from popular television shows to reflect what they wanted to take from the story. Whether it’s by leaning into popular fan ships or envisioning possible internal monologues for the characters, these fancams are a core part of how the fanbase further interacts with and transforms the work for itself.

They also can generate a lot of attention by doing the unexpected, as another fan, Jay, tells me.

“Even outside the fandom, the edits sometimes blow up because you just would not expect to see Kendall Roy or Tom Wambsgans edited to Taylor Swift or Girls’ Generation,” Jay says. Not only are they a viewer of these fancams, but Jay is an accomplished editor of them too. They’re responsible for one of the most praised videos in the fandom: the Kendall Roy “Alien Superstar” fancam.

Deciding to pair the song and character together was more intuitive than it might seem, Jay explains. “For the most part, it [comes from] just hearing a song and thinking it would be fun to edit a character to it,” they tell me. “I can make almost anything be about Kendall Roy or Succession, so it’s really a matter of finding scenes in the show that match lyrics after hearing a song.”

The music these editors pair with clips is perhaps the most integral aspect of the fancam. The more surprising or subversive the pick, the better. “I think they have gained popularity because the fancams of the characters are mostly cheerful or painting them in a good light, which is ironic, given that [they’re] from a show about wealthy people with questionable morals,” says May.

The fancams are quite lighthearted, with editors allowing their favorite characters a chance to be happy, even for a small moment in time. After watching the Roy siblings go through hell season after season, sometimes you need a little video of Kendall Roy marching through the halls of Waystar Royco, set to a song from Beyoncé’s Renaissance.

Now that the fourth, and final, season has premiered, what does this mean for the future of Succession fancams? Jay, though sad the show is ending, says they’ve found inspiration in the news of the show’s coming end. “[It] inspired me to edit immediately. Like an hour after I saw the announcement, I had already edited [clips of] Kendall to Lana Del Rey and Stewy to The 1975.” Fitting tunes for a melancholy announcement, and proof that these creators are geniuses in their own right, using their emotions to aid in their creativity.

There is no doubt that the final season of the show will birth some of the best fancams the fandom will see, and hopefully they will be set to more catchy pop songs. Fancams are a way of establishing a love for a piece of media, while also giving it a wide range of online attention. And like all great fan works, they create a sense of community outside of just the piece of media itself. “I have made great friends in the fandom,” May says, “and I love making fancams to cheer them up as well.”

May is hopeful for the future of the series and the community for that reason—or at least thankful for the memories, no matter what. “I don’t know how long the fandom will last after [Succession] ends, but as long as there’s people who enjoy the edits, I’ll keep making them.”

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