TV Series - Aug 29, 2022
I am less concerned about you than I am about climate change," a colleague tells Harper Stern in HBO's latest episode of Industry, which explores the combative, cocaine-fueled world of international banking. Harper's ostracized junior banker, who has been using Covid to avoid becoming visible on the sales floor, reveals just as much about the show's milieu as it does about the plot of the episode.
At the moment, Harper (Myha'la Herrold), who works at fictional investment firm Pierpoint, is avoiding the consequences of the ice-cold double-cross she implemented at the end of Season 1, which led to a progressive female mentor being terminated in favor of Eric, a man who thrives on work culture abuse.
Harper appears performatively ruthless, whereas Herrold is assiduous in revealing the college dropout's humanity. There are times when she even tears up. The first series of Industry premiered during the middle of the pandemic when the world that it depicted was largely incapacitated. In the second season, most bankers brought their Bloomberg terminals back into the office a few months after the first one ended.
After quarreling with her roommate, the brittle FX trader Yasmin, Harper has already moved into a hotel after surviving last season's great culling of recent graduates. Additionally, Harper's chippy boss Eric - played by Ken Leung - seems determined to reduce her to size after last year's tricks.
Most of the time, however, Industry remains the same. There are the same pleasures and pitfalls as the first time. Occasionally, the dialogue is so loaded with financial jargon that it becomes difficult to understand. Bass sounds emanate from the synthesizer and threaten to crack the glass walls of the office.
Among the new cast members are Alex Alomar Akpobome as Danny, a corny American banker who is new to the London office, as well as Jay Duplass, whose nonchalant new colleague refuses to conform to the trading floor's hostile pace.
There is also a new challenge to be faced. Having rotated to remote working, the head office has realized how much money can be made by slimming down operations; either Pierpoint London or Pierpoint New York will soon be absorbed by the other. This existential threat further exacerbates Harper's drowning in a sea of hypercompetitive waters. The company's only life raft is its ability to make more money.
Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, the creators of the series, are ex-bankers with an ear for snappy dialogue and the courage to let their inventions embarrass them. Danny brazenly adds, "By way of New Haven", when he is introduced as "from New York". When I heard The Great Gatsby's notorious metonym for Yale unabashedly repurposed for an office piss boxing match, I cringed.
However, the show's greatest pleasure is making having boatloads of money seem as unbearably miserable as we all secretly wish. In season one, you may have liked the bleak outlook and blistering pace of Harper's office and you will not be disappointed in this season.
TV Series - Aug 26, 2022