Investment bankers are not a profession with a good public image. Seen by many as responsible for the 2008 global financial crisis, it is easy to see why. So, this begs the question, what type of people would want to become investment bankers in today’s world? It is understandable that it’s a role that pays particularly well, but the dubious ethical nature of the work paired with the job’s image would surely put many off? Industry, the new show created by Mickey Down and Konrad Kay looks to answer just that question, as it follows a group of graduates on a programme at an investment banking firm.
Executive Produced by Lena Dunham, on a surface level it is easy to see her influence on the show. Frank about young people’s sexual and drug related exploits, the show seems to fit in well with the sort of themes Dunham has touched on with shows such as Girls, however with a London twist. For me however, Industry takes a far more critical look at the privileges beholden to each character. Though each may face personal hardships, we are quickly reminded of each character’s privilege – be it concerning race, class, gender, or sexuality. The show is able to navigate the problems of its characters, while addressing areas in which they are problematic, and it does so quite skilfully.
The ensemble cast that makes up our group of graduates is headed up by standout performer Myha’la Herrold (The Tattooed Heart). Her character Harper is the group’s American member, and Herrold brings to the role a forceful energy through her determined voice and demeanour. It is clear that, be it to do with her race, her gender, or her nationality, Harper does not fit in with the typical yuppie image of an investment banker, yet she works hard to be successful despite this oppressive setback.
In the three episodes shown at London Film Festival (episodes one, two, and four) it is clear that Industry attempts to decentralise the political role of investment banking itself in an attempt to understand the people within it. This is not to say it does not interrogate its political role, as I have mentioned it is forthcoming in assessing the political motives of those within the firm as well as more peripheral characters, however in terms of the role of the firm itself the show throughout these three episodes seems to take a more neutral viewpoint. In short, it is not didactic in its approach to analysing the firm’s intentions, however it does allow for some insight into its power structures, how that power is applied, and what the culture of such firms rewards, as is seen in episode one’s tragic conclusion.
Industry is an intelligent and insightful look into the world of investment banking post 2008. Rather than attacking it through a deconstruction of capital itself, Industry allows the firm to destroy itself, simply showing us the slimy and repulsive culture present there, and the ruthlessness it takes to succeed. Completely gripping, I can’t wait to see where the remaining episodes take us.