Movies & TV

Industry Season 2 Digs Deeper Into Our Obsession with Money

Season two is a far better and more polished show that should let more viewers into the world of Industry.
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The first episode of the second season of Industry just dropped on HBO Go and fans of the show should be excited to see their favorite bankers back after surviving the pandemic. Those unfamiliar with Industry might wonder just how interesting a drama about finance can be. Well, a show about finance probably wouldn’t be interesting at all.

Good thing Industry isn’t actually a show about finance. It’s about ridiculously sexy people who just happen to be working in a fictional investment bank. “Well, you know, the financial setting of it is just the play space,” explains Ken Leung, who plays Pierpoint’s heavy hitter Eric Tao. “The real draw of the show is the characters, the relationships, which is why we meet them outside of work, we meet their families and stuff like that.”

“It's not really about finance. That's just the playground that we're playing in.”

It was a rich, often realistic playground that earned the first season praise for its spot-on depiction of the banking world with dialogue saturated with industry jargon. But it was also this realism that acted as a barrier limiting viewers’ immersion in the series, co-creator Konrad Kay admits, "Truth is, we made a bit of a mistake in season one because Mickey [and I were] so caught up in the idea of making it true to the space that I think we shut a lot of people out.”

Kay and co-creator Mickey Down get a little help from writer-producer Jami O’Brien in season two in bridging the gap between experts in finance and the laymen. According to Kay, “What we did with season two, with Jami's help and with HBO executives help as well, was make sure that within every scene even though the jargon was still very much spot on and very dense, there [were] enough tent poles that we put into the scene so that people could kind of understand what was going on.”

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Season two is a far better and more polished show that should let more viewers into the world of Industry, with more intelligible dialogue that doesn’t merely serve as window dressing but adds to the story arcs. “I think when the show is working at its best, it works on a number of levels,” explains O’Brien. “I think if you're in the finance world, I think that you're going to enjoy the finance lingo that is super specific and really authentic. One of the things that I functioned for in the room was I don't come from this background.”

O’Brien served as the layman’s champion during the scriptwriting process, making season two significantly more accessible while staying true to the playground. “My hope is that there's a little something for everyone,” O’Brien says. “If you're in the finance world, you'll enjoy the show for that. And if you're not, you'll enjoy it for Harper and Yasmin, and what they get up to and what's happening to them.”

And what’s happened to Industry’s heroines Harper Stern and Yasmin Yazdani is basically what happened to the rest of the world as it reeled from the pandemic. Industrys showrunners wrestled with whether to tackle COVID in the show. “We had a sort of back and forth when we were conceiving the second season about how much whether to include COVID at all,” Down explains. "Because you know, I don't think anyone really wanted to watch a TV show about COVID, having lived through it for two years.”

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“Then we thought we'd [be doing a] disservice to contemporary workplace drama if we didn't include what was obviously the biggest shock to work culture in 100 years. So I felt like we had to do something with it.”

Lives changed with the pandemic, and the same goes for the stars of Pierpoint. “We were very lucky and that this show welcomes reality,” says Myha’la Herrold, whose Harper Stern managed to survive the investment bank’s RIF last season but has spent the last two years in isolation. “As much as we had been away for two years as human beings, our characters have also been apart and done a lot of their own, growing, learning, experiencing through the pandemic as we had as people. So our characters much like us as people came back with baggage from that time away.” 

The tension between best frenemies Harper and Yasmin Yazdani (Marisa Abela) also turns up a notch. “I would say in the first season for me,” explains Herrold, “It was very much these two people trying to figure out how they could genuinely be good friends. And by the time we reach the second season, there is [an] established love-hate relationship. It's like two people who are totally different, who would not be friends in the world outside of work.”

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The pair’s contrast of personalities and backgrounds is one of Industry’s more interesting interactions. How they grow on their own as well as how they find ways to thrive together is one of the season’s dynamics to watch out for. According to Herrold, “Now that they have all this history, they're sort of butting heads with loving each other and then dealing with this like hostile, hierarchical, male gaze-y environment.”

Season two is a far better and more polished show that should let more viewers into the world of Industry.

The challenge of standing out in a male-dominated space isn’t confined to the world of finance, either:  “For me, it feels familiar, because we—Marisa and myself—are also young women in an industry historically, and still predominantly male-dominated towards the top. So (relating to our characters) is not hard. We do that every day.” 

“I think that Yasmin,” Abela chimes in, “in terms of how [she] deals with that, she's finding this time to find out exactly what she can bring to the table and go there, which is, I think, why she decides to make the move up to PWM (Personal Wealth Management). Yasmin's talent [is] that she speaks a bunch of different languages [and] she's incredibly socially gifted. So that's where she knows that she should be so that she becomes sort of indispensable.”

Throughout season two, the women of Industry work hard not just to be seen but to be indispensable. Abela continues, “I think that as a woman, you have to be indispensable, not just good, but indispensable to climb the ranks of whatever job you're in.”

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Industry depicts real world dynamics such as the challenges of women in the patriarchal finance space with brutal realism, but none more so than how the pursuit of money shapes character. Downs, who worked at Rothschild & Co prior to co-creating Industry, relates, “You know, when you go to banking interviews, the one thing you're not supposed to say is that I'm here to make money, but it is still the industry where people go into it predominantly to make money.”

“The unspoken thing about finance is that you go in there so you can make a lot of cash, and that that attracts a very certain kind of person. And that's the sort of person we're kind of we're trying to explore like, at the end of the day, reductively and ultimately, industry is about a show about what the relentless pursuit of money does to someone within a corporate context.”

Kay adds, “It breeds a very specific type of ambition.”

It’s an ambition reflected by the show itself, as Industry attempts to balance accessibility with authenticity, juggling the stories of its compelling characters, whether it’s Eric’s midlife crisis or Yasmin’s hedonistic pandemic response or Harper’s isolation. The newly minted graduates who survived a roller-coaster first season at Pierpoint are in for an even wilder ride. 

Industry shows every Tuesday on HBO Go in the Philippines.

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Hugo Zacarias Yonzon IV
Zach Yonzon is a cake artist and co-owner of Bunny Baker
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