Succession's Jesse Armstrong Is ADWEEK's 2024 TV Creator of the Year

Armstrong's series brought appointment TV back to a fragmented viewing landscape

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Succession scribe Jesse Armstrong, ADWEEK’s 2024 TV Creator of the Year, never had a clear path to comedy TV royalty.

Armstrong, who grew up in Oswestry in Shropshire, England, attended the University of Manchester and took on American studies as an undergraduate. Later, he worked as a researcher for a member of Parliament before realizing a career in politics wasn’t for him. So Armstrong did the next best thing—tried his luck at comedy.

The Succession showrunner had an accomplished career long before Logan Roy ever made the future CEO of Waystar Royco oink for sausages. Among his many projects, he co-created and co-wrote nine seasons of Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning comedy Peep Show, and he was nominated for an Academy Award for writing the film In the Loop.

Of course, Armstrong hit a cultural nerve with HBO’s Succession, perhaps calling on some of his university experience in American studies to land a tense, sprawling story inspired by the Murdoch family and the tech billionaires influencing media today.

“We thought of famous media families like the Hearsts, to modern-day Redstone, John Malone, Robert Fitz of Comcast, Murdoch, and Robert and Rebekah Mercer [of] Breitbart,” Armstrong told HBO about the inspiration for the series. “Lots of real-life moguls.”

Over its four-season run, the show, which has been described as Game of Thrones without the dragons, was a critical success and awards juggernaut, bringing appointment TV back to a fragmented viewing landscape and taking over social media on Sunday nights. The series collected three wins each for Best Drama Series at the Golden Globes and Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmys. Plus, its stars, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Brian Cox, Matthew Macfadyen and Kieran Culkin, all collected individual acting awards along the way.

Succession even helped propel its podcast, hosted by journalist Kara Swisher, to be ADWEEK’s 2023 Podcast of the Year, with Swisher giving listeners a highly sought-after, behind-the-scenes look at the watercooler show while Armstrong and HBO provided guidance and access.

Armstrong summed up the emotions of bringing the show to a close when accepting his fourth Emmy for writing in the series, saying, “It was a great sadness to end the show, but it was a great pleasure to do it.”

Still, Armstrong isn’t at a “Kendall Roy sitting on a bench in Battery Park” level of sad. Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Armstrong didn’t have any qualms about ending the show after four seasons, noting he was more than ready to take a break.

“On a day-to-day level, I don’t miss it,” he said. “I’m enjoying not having the tremendous pressure of making the show as good as we all wanted it to be.”

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This story first appeared in the March 12, 2024, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.