Dept. of Sex and Drugs and P & L's


Industry, HBO’s new drama set in the fast paced world of international banking and finance, started this week. After trading his way through the first four episodes of its initial eight episode offering, Iain ponders if it’s worth your (time) investment?

I don’t know much about world of international finance or the workings of the City of London, but if you don’t either then 1) don’t expect Industry to act as an introduction, and 2) don’t let that put you off, as it’s far from necessary to enjoy this financial drama.

Industry is far more interested in the interpersonal relationships and after hours liaisons of the finance graduates recruited by bank Pierpoint & Co. than the ins and outs of trades, as they settle into their roles at the CPS, FX, and IBD desks, and into new lives with plentiful access to power, money, drugs, and sex.


Coming off as a sort of “Baby Billions,” Industry primarily follows new hire Harper (Myha’la Herrold) as she tries to negotiate the unspoken rules of the various fiefdoms of the bank. Along with fresh grads, Yasmin (Marisa Abela), Robert (Harry Lawtey), Gus (David Jonsson), and Hari (Nabhaan Rizwan), every day brings fresh opportunities for getting ahead, or for abject humiliation at the hands of the managing directors, each of whom has their unique management style (or lack thereof). From wearing the wrong color suit, to messing up lunch orders, they all have to try and learn as much as they can while impressing their bosses and building their own client relationships in order to prove their worth before the date of the dreaded Reduction in Force (RIF) when most of them will be let go.


Myha’la Herrold’s Harper is a compelling guide to this world, although her mysterious background starts to wear thin after a while. The show drops plenty of hints that she is hiding things from her employers, but hiding that from the viewer can be a little frustrating.  Even a partial reveal in episode four is slightly anti-climactic in how it’s handled. 

While Harper is undoubtedly the focus, the shifting relationships and flirtation games between Yasmin, Robert, and Yasmin’s boyfriend Seb (Jonathan Barnwell), the messed up relationship between Gus and Theo (Will Tudor), along with the copious sex scenes and drug use, gives the show a feel similar to mid 90s legal drama This Life (retro reference alert!), the BBC TV show that launched the careers of Andrew Lincoln and Jack Davenport.

The plain shitty behavior of the permanent staff of Pierpoint & Co. also keep things entertaining. From Derek Riddell’s Managing Dinosaur, Clement, who makes enough money from one client that he doesn’t have to do anything all day, to the background barks of Sagar Radia’s Rishi that enliven any trading floor scene with insults and “banter.”

Bankers? That Level of Self Interest is Just Toxic

Ken Leung’s Eric is another highlight from the moment he appears on screen, interrogating Harper in her interview for the job. He’s magnetic. After seeing Leung in smaller roles for years, he really gets a chance to shine here. The man is almost 100% swagger, playing with a baseball bat, and never hesitating to dress down a subordinate in front of the entire office. There are hints though that he’s has more troubles than he lets on.

More time with all the permanent staff at Pierpont would be preferable to yet another scene of Robert getting completely wrecked on booze and drugs, although this is an important part for any entry level employee in such a high powered, stressful, and well paid industry with such easy access to booze and drugs. The show doesn’t shy away from showing the repercussions of these actions, however, and I’m sure by season’s end quite a few unwelcome chickens will come to home to roost.


While I referenced This Life above, Industry is, appropriately enough, a much slicker, expensive looking show, with Lena Dunham directing the first episode. That first episode features some nice stylistic flourishes, like intercutting between the music in a packed London club and the headphones of one of the team working late on a pitch. It is something that is unfortunately not really repeated in the rest of the show.

Graduates Are Our Capital

I was a little surprised that even after four episodes, the impact of THAT bombshell from the season opener also felt a little underdeveloped. Sure, as new hires the characters don’t know each other all that well, but apart from some ass covering by the corporate overlords at Pierpoint & Co., the death of what appeared to be a main character seems to have very little impact.

After watching half of Industry‘s first season, it’s interesting enough that I might return to binge watch the rest of the season when it comes available, but it’s not quite “must-see TV.” As “Billions for beginners” it doesn’t quite have the same killer hook like Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades squaring off against each other. Yet.

HBO, Season 1, 8 episodes
Showrunners:Mickey Down and Konrad Kay.
Writers: Mickey Down, Konrad Kay, and Sam H. Freeman
Cast: Myha’la Herrold, Marisa Abela, Ken Leung, Freya Mavor, Harry Lawtey, David Jonsson, Will Tudor, Jonathan Barnwell, Derek Riddell, and Sagar Radia.

New episodes of Industry are available at the same time as the U.S., every Tuesday at 11AM exclusively on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411 HD), with a same day encore at 11PM on HBO.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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