“Are we c***s?” young investment banker Robert asks his colleague Yasmin.
I immediately want to yell ‘Yes!’ at my TV, because the characters in new HBO drama Industry are not exactly endearing.
But working in London investment bank Pierpoint & Co. they are clearly in the lion’s den.
The series created by Mickey Down & Konrad Kay (both Hoff the Record) is as cold as they come. Deals are done, empires rise and fall and any respect in the workplace is discarded in the pursuit of profits -but that’s the point.
In the middle of it all is Harper Stern (Myha’la Herrold) one of the ambitious young graduates ready to take on the world at Pierpoint. Nobody knows she has lied her way into a London trading desk from New York, but she is both skilled and savage working alongside her mentor boss Eric (Ken Leung).
It’s impressed upon the graduates that they are the fortunate ones, but permanent roles at Pierpoint must be taken not offered. This sees our young ensemble work hard and play hard, blazing bright in between heady nights of clubbing, drugs, sex and drinking.
They include Yasmin (Marisa Abela) who is bullied by her privileged Irish superior Kenny (Conor MacNeill) – he apparently presumes he can sleep with her simply for being her superior; Oxford grad Robert (Harry Lawtey) whose excess habits are second nature; Gus Sackey (David Jonsson) whose relaxed gay outlook contradicts colleagues that are old-fashioned or in the closet, and Hari (Nabhaan Rizwan) who sleeps in a company toilet cubicle just so he can work longer at his desk.
As our graduates try ruthlessly to impress their bosses just to survive another day, Industry is more Hunger Games and Wolf of Wall Street than How to Succeed in Business (Without Really Trying). But at what cost? The loss of humanity is at the core theme of Down & Kay’s story, and they realise this world with such authenticity much of the lingo will go over your head.
But there’s also unfiltered language, explicit sex and full frontal nudity, with Episode One directed by Girls creator Lena Dunham.
Myha’la Herrold is particularly impressive as the duplicitous Harper. She struggles to find a flat and to connect as an outsider, but never gives in. At the office she is unrelenting.
“You are a world killer… now I see you,” her boss Eric tells her.
Industry is uncompromising and callous …be glad it’s them and not you.
Industry airs 8:30pm Monday on FOX Showcase / Binge.