Jesse Armstrong, creator of “Succession”: “The idea was to bring together a glamorous world and a stripped aesthetic”

Jesse Armstrong (center), on the set of the series

The day after the posting online, for the French public, of the concluding episode of Succession (a dozen hours after the American broadcast), Jesse Armstrong, British creator of the series broadcast on Prime Video, dissects, from his London office, despite a faltering Internet connection, his creative process and analyzes the reasons for the critical and audience of the Roy children’s saga. Warning, this interview contains spoilers for season 4.

The “finale” of “Succession” generated a lot of comments in the press. The series occupies almost more space than the war in Ukraine in the “New York Times”. What is it about, in your opinion?

If you think about it, it’s pretty awful… But after all, the newspapers are not a list of facts happening in the world, ranked in order of importance. And we know that it is not possible to write every day about certain conflicts and other horrible things that are happening in the world. That said, Succession is a satire of the media. There are media pressures that are not honourable, that have consequences – the media family that the show portrays is some version of that. On the other hand, I have sympathy for editors who choose to engage their readers on certain topics and encourage them to read. It’s a human weakness that I don’t find completely incomprehensible, even if it has something repulsive about it.

Does this say anything about readers, and more specifically readers of the “New York Times” in the United States, the “Guardian” in the United Kingdom or even the “Monde” in France?

I’m glad the show had its little moment of cultural glory, but it’s not for me to say why. No matter how good it is – I’ve done my best to make it good, and I think it is – the fact that the show is set in the world of media means that the people who write about it focus on issues of media independence, editorial freedom and employment in journalism and the media in general. I think that’s what makes us get a little more attention than the others. Similarly, a medical series will probably capture a little more attention from doctors.

If you think back to the very beginning of the series, how would you say it evolved?

The intention of the series is to be specific in what it shows of human psychology and family dynamics, but in a way that would also explain today’s British-American political and media culture. . From this point of view, we remained faithful to what we wanted to show. When I pitched the series, I mentioned a cross between dallas And Festen (Danish film by Thomas Vinterberg, 1998) in Hollywood, we often do that… The idea was to bring together a glamorous world and a stripped-down aesthetic. And I think that idea infuses the whole series.

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