What To Watch Tonight: Industry

What To Watch Tonight: Industry

In this new BBC/HBO collaboration, five graduates venture into the cut-throat world of finance in the aftermath of the recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis. Directed by Girls’ Lena Dunham, this is much more than an inside look at a hierarchical, corporate investment bank. Filled with sex, drugs and identity crises, here’s why the eight-part series is worth a watch.
Photography: BBC

Fuelled by sheer ambition, Industry examines issues of gender, race, class and privilege in the workplace as five impressionable young minds forge their identities within the pressure-cooker environment of the trading floor of Pierpoint & Co, London’s pre-eminent financial institution. The brainchild of former bankers and first-time TV creators Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, the series follows this group of young graduates as they compete for a limited number of permanent positions at the leading investment bank. In six months’ time, the grads will have to stand up and say why they should be hired permanently. The impression they make on clients, the business they bring in and the opinion of their line mangers will all be taken into account. It’s up to each of them to make themselves indispensable.

We witness this largely inaccessible world of high finance through the eyes of an outsider – Harper Stern (Myha’la Herrold, The Tattooed Heart), a talented young grad from upstate New York. When we meet her, she’s in New York being interviewed by Eric Tao (Ken Leung, Inhuman), Pierpoint’s most distinguished MD. Despite having a different background to most of the people on the trading floor, Harper knows that working in a bank, especially Pierpoint, means she’ll only be judged on the strength of her abilities. In episode one, Harper is tasked by Eric to start generating business as quickly as possible. An invitation from a VP on her desk – played by Skins’ Freya Mavor – to a business dinner with a huge client, Nicole (Sarah Parish, W1A), provides the ideal opportunity. But when the dinner doesn’t go to plan, Harper is left wondering whether she’ll ever make her mark at Pierpoint – a feeling shared by all of the graduates across the series.

Another grad on trial is Robert (Harry Lawtey, Marcella), who uses his good looks and charm to get ahead in life. He’s been assigned to MD Clement Cowan (a supremely sniffy Derek Riddell of The Missing) – but Clement's refusal to talk to him makes impressing him impossible. Instead, Robert plunges headfirst into London’s clubbing scene – and the public sex and drugs it can entail – something that draws the anger of his colleagues.



Meanwhile, Yasmin (Marisa Abela, Cobra) wants nothing more than people to see past her glossy looks and judge her as the shrewd businesswoman she is. Despite living a privileged life in a beautiful home in Notting Hill – bought for her by her art collecting mother – Yasmin starts at the bottom of Pierpoint along with everyone else, aiming to win friends by getting coffee and lunches in for her team. But is she at risk of remaining the lacky? 

Placed on the same desk are well-connected Gus (David Jonsson, Deep Fray) and Hari (Nabhaan Rizwan, Informer), who has a point to prove. Gus studied at Eton – and therefore knows many of his superiors – and considers Pierpoint to be a mere steppingstone on his path to Number 10. Meanwhile, Hari will always go the extra length to impress his bosses and prove he’s much more than his state school education suggests. Gus and Hari vie for the attention of their VP Lucinda (Ruby Bentall, Lost in Austen) in the hope that one of them will be taken into a pitch for a lucrative new client. However, Gus’ natural flair for the investment banking division makes Hari feel the need to overcompensate with all-nighters in the office fuelled by a diet of energy drinks and Pro Plus.

There’s an element of I May Destroy You – the BBC’s undeniable hit of 2020 starring and written by Michaela Coel – in Industry’s fearlessness when it comes to explicit depictions of casual drug use and sex, especially in relation to women getting what they want. Dunham will have had much to do with this – Girls was hardly chaste – but these extracurricular activities certainly make for a refreshing watch and make each of the characters all the more relatable. Throw in the writers’ experience in the banking world, and this is a thrilling eight-part series which manages to merge the ruthless, unpredictable nature within Pierpoint’s stark skyscraper with a collection of flawed, early twentysomething characters to root for. A must watch.


Industry begins on HBO on Monday 9th November and BBC Two on Tuesday 10th November.

Visit BBC.co.uk 


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