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Industry 1
Photo: Amanda Searle/HBO

Television

‘Industry’: First impressions

Industry captures the stress, drama, sex, and drugs of working in finance.

Mickey Down and Konrad Kay began their careers working in finance but found that wasn’t the right job for them. The pair then turned to entertainment predominantly writing for television and film. For their first series as creators, they drew upon their first-hand experiences in investment banking to provide an insider’s look behind the scenes of a large financial institution in HBO’s upcoming Industry.

The show is centered around a group of young graduates trying to make an impression at a prestigious investment bank in London during a one-year internship program. After its completion, only a select few will earn permanent positions at the company. Watch as these new employees juggle the stress of the job with managing the ever-evolving relationships between their peers and management. As is common with these hotshot types, particularly since many come from privileged backgrounds, they work hard but party harder.

One of the first noticeable aspects about Industry is that it is well shot creating a sleek, modern vibe. Add in the contemporary soundtrack and it is very fitting for a Gen Z story. The camerawork captures the dynamic energy in these high stakes of finance where big money changes hands. It can make a scene talking to a client and entering numbers in a computer intense and compelling.

Story wise, the show plays like a prime time soap and guilty pleasure. It has good looking people behaving badly indulging in a ton of sex and drugs. The drama is captivating and draws and entrenches you into the series. There’s a fair bit of cattiness where the graduates walk that fine line between friend and colleague in this highly competitive environment. Everyone’s trying to get ahead and sometimes that means pushing someone else down.

Industry 2
Photo: Amanda Searle/HBO

Industry assembles a talented cast to fill the roles of both the graduates and managers. For the younger talent, overall, they make their characters likeable despite their flaws. Lead Myha’la Herrold, who plays American, Harper Stern, a more than qualified graduate who lied her way into the position, effectively conveys her internal struggle with her decisions while she impresses but fears her secrets might come out. Ken Leung stands out as Harper’s mentor, Eric Tao. He really commands the office at Pierpoint as a cold and calculating executive but shows a level of pride and affection as he molds his protégé into a future leader.

At times, it can be difficult to get behind the graduates. It can be painful watching some of their choices especially with the degree of arrogance and privilege they’re made with. However, you wouldn’t be invested in these characters if they didn’t make you feel something. Also, the show examines issues of gender, race, class, and privilege in the workplace but some of the subjects aren’t explored past a superficial extent in the first four episodes. But there is still time remaining in the back half of the season for something more profound.

Industry is a fascinating look behind the curtain at a big-time investment bank. It contains soapy elements that you can’t look away from and a capable cast playing flawed but complex characters.

The season premiere of Industry is Monday, November 9, on HBO.

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