The High-Stakes Industry Undresses the Alluring Mechanisms of the Financial World
The financial sector finally gets the sex and drugs treatment in HBO’s new show Industry, where a class of 20-somethings fights each other for a position at a prestigious London investment bank. The show sits comfortably in between Euphoria and Succession, two other HBO shows that attempt to process the mechanisms of our modern world. While Industry is made with HBO’s typically high standards and attention to details, its beats are starting to feel familiar.
Industry follows a group of 20-somethings as they make their start at the fictional Pierpoint and Co. The show is a hybrid high school dramedy with most of the drama focused on the characters and situations. Of the main cast, the audience will relate most strongly to Harper, a New Yorker from SUNY (the State University of New York) who has somehow managed to land a spot at Pierpoint. The rest of the cast includes Yasmin, a rich girl whose privilege is looked down upon at the office, Robert, a party boy from a working-class background, and Gus, a prime minister wannabe who takes himself too seriously.
For the most part, the show’s elements all add up. The characters are likable, the lingo is accurate, and everyone looks like they actually belong. However, it is all starting to feel a little predictable. The requisite amount of drugs pops up, as does an early episode sex scene between two characters who shouldn’t be doing it. One character is shown harsh realities about the industry, another overachieves, and another meets an unexpected dismissal.
HBO has a storied history of these business undressings, from Silicon Valley to Veep to Ballers, showing equal parts the ridiculousness and the allure that keep these sectors at the front of the news. With Industry, HBO seems to be getting a little passive. The suits and boardrooms of Succession, the soundscapes and drugs of Euphoria—you can almost see the meeting where someone said, “Let’s just do a banker show next.”
With that said, it must be noted that the show is almost flawless in its construction. This is HBO, after all, and it wouldn’t lean so hard on a formula if it wasn’t so good at it. The attention to detail is so good it is invisible, with credit going to creators Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, two investment bankers turned screenwriters. Technical terms are thrown left and right with no explanation. Instead of intimidating the viewer, however, it makes one feel included.
The cast is exciting, eclectic, and just generally a good group to follow, and they, without question, carry the show. Marisa Abel and Harry Lawtey, who play Yasmin and Robert, respectively, are stellar, while Ken Leung and Priya Burford provide strong supporting turns.
The show’s depiction of London from the perspective of a young investment banker never gets as indulgent as other shows might. Industry is savvy enough to know these kids will only have enough time for the office, the pub, and their beds. Most interesting though is the sniff of class warfare commentary that isn’t as present in other HBO works. While Entourage and Sex and the City epitomized HBO’s “rich people porn,” the protagonists of Industry are younger and grew up in a different world. They are more worldly than Vinny Chase and Carrie Bradshaw, and therefore more interesting.
For those done with the HBO format, perhaps it's best to look elsewhere but, for fans of this kind of story, Industry proves that once again nobody does it like HBO does.
Industry is now streaming on HBO Go.