A new television drama series about a group of young, privileged trader wannabes in the current climate might seem totally unrelatable and unimportant in the current global pandemic mood. Surprisingly, Industry that follows a group of young bankers and traders trying to find their footing in the financial world in the aftermath of the 2008 collapse is highly relevant today, as it deals with a whole host of current topics, including racial equality, mental well-being and substance abuse.
Set in the world of a fictitious investment bank, compelling California-born New Yorker Myha’la Herrold plays Harper who is smart, risk-taking and determined to make her mark, having entered the graduate training scheme through dishonest ways that are not yet disclosed in the first three episodes reviewed. This is her secret that will obviously come to light at some point.
Marisa Abela plays Yasmin from a fortunate background who is very much in touch with her sexuality and loves to have fun with it, but also wants to show she can hack it in the still male-centric environment.
David Jonsson is public school-educated Gus who should fit into banking land without a hitch. However, he has a secret which he is reluctant to share, especially while alpha-male banter is still rife on the trading floor. The reaction from old friend and established trader Theo (Will Tudor) is very much testament to that.
Harry Lawtey plays the other private school-educated undergrad, Robert, who thinks tapping into the office party mood is the way to get ahead in the boardroom, leaving him with a growing addiction crisis to come.
Nabhaan Rizwan is Hari, acutely aware that he has to work twice as hard to get noticed as he comes via the ‘state school route’.
Ken Leung of Sopranos and Lost fame plays Eric, Harper’s equally savvy mentor and boss who has his own stories and skeletons in the closet, but makes for an intriguing gauge as to how ‘the industry’ has changed – or not, as the case may be.
Immediately, the refreshing comparison between eight-part TV series Industry and the likes of big-screen banking tales The Wolf on Wall Street and Wall Street is the focus on diversity and its perspective on the traditional White male-dominated workplace, where money still talks the loudest. Its writers and directors, including Junkhearts‘ Tinge Krishnan and Girls and Tiny Furniture‘s Lena Dunham inject a much needed alternative angle on this genre, giving substance and backbone to their characters who would otherwise be swallowed up in the drama of the trading room.
With individual performances that vary in strength, the fact is one character’s journey could be equally transferable to any high-pressured workplace drama. This makes Industry rather appealing and highly significant today, in light of Black Lives Matter and the changing landscape.
Another fascinating benchmark character in this is big boss Sara Dhadwal, a woman of colour, played by Press and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi actress Priyanga Burford. Her perspective and handling of the situations that arise also depict another compelling insight into the environment, in addition to Eric’s. However, as the drama and dialogue suggests, have these two merely ‘moulded’ into what is expected of them, after years of institutional prejudice and privilege?
Set to premiere on November 9 on BBC Two in the UK and on HBO in the United States, Industry shrewdly holds a mirror up to current societal class and race structures and economic divides within a world of opportunity. It analyses what it means to have an advantage, but not yet have it all in this potent rat race. It is certainly an exciting small screen prospect to pop into the diary for November.