Succession showrunner Jesse Armstrong has created some of the most despicable characters known to modern TV but he claimed this afternoon he “doesn’t enjoy seeing them suffer.”
Speaking at the BBC Comedy Festival, the celebrated auteur described his bevvy of questionable characters as “caged beasts who are facing societal pressures” and said he “doesn’t feel sadistic” towards them when penning scripts.
“I don’t enjoy seeing them suffer,” Armstrong told a packed audience, just days before the HBO epic concludes.
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“They are bad people who do terrible things to the world and we see a degree of what makes them act that way so I have sympathy for them. They are caged beasts who are facing societal pressures.”
Throughout its four-season run, Armstrong has repeatedly been questioned over whether Succession is based on the Murdochs. Today, he once again scotched the notion while stating that he’s never met the family but wouldn’t need to in order to fictionalize their lives.
“When researching for a show people ask whether the Murdochs whisper in our ear and it’s like, well no they’re in Vanity Fair every week slagging each other off,” he added.
Armstrong oversees a huge Succession writers room that includes the likes of I Hate Suzie creator Lucy Prebble and he urged other scribes to “be part of the conversation on set.”
“Some writers don’t want to be on set but if you had any desire to go to set then the producers and directors should welcome you,” he added. “Occasionally the thing you see happening is a director and actor looking at a script saying ‘What do you think this means?’” So [the writer] should be part of the conversation. Otherwise, it’s like there is a party and you’re not there.”
Armstrong said he is a “militant flag-waver” for writer-led shows over commissioner or producer-led.
The Succession finale airs Sunday night. Yesterday, Brian Cox, whose patriarch character Logan Roy was killed in the third episode of Season 4, said he believes Logan was “written out too early.”
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