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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Industry review: Let’s play predict the plot

Industry, streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar, is not the bare-it-all account of the trading floor, nor is it a moralistic take.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Written by Ektaa Malik |
November 11, 2020 7:59:11 pm
IndustryIndustry is available on Disney Plus Hotstar.

Industry creator: Mickey Down and Konrad Kay
Industry cast: Myha’la Herrold, Marisa Abela, Harry Lawtey and Ken Leung
Industry rating: Two stars

The first five minutes of Industry drives homes the message of diversity harder than anything else on the show. The HBO show brings to life the trading floor and the young adults who can either make it or break it while they make multi-million dollar/pound deals through phone lines. In the heavily grey-toned show, set in London, we meet the fresh class of grads who are being initiated at Peirpoint, an exclusive, elite investment bank.

There is Harper Stern (Myha’la Herrold), an American black girl who sports a nose ring and braids; there is Hari Dhar (Nabhaan Rizwan) a desi origin boy; then there is Gus, an Etonian and a graduate from Oxford; and there is the token white boy from a public-school-working-class background and to top it all a supremely privileged girl with an inheritance that makes sure she doesn’t need her pay check.

There are the bosses who are bullies, insane deadlines, pushy clients, all working under the aegis of dog-eat-dog mantra. What the trailer promised was an inside look into the world of trading and high finance. But the show almost turns into a high-school drama sans the high school. The grads and their drama-filled lives take centre stage, which is all fine and dandy, except we have seen it all before. As it’s an HBO show, add ample nudity and sex to the mix.

A group of young people trying to make sense of a high-pressure job. Industry could very well be The Resident (it airs on Fox), or one of those legal dramas where young graduates have to move hell and heaven to keep their jobs. I even had flashbacks of How To Get Away with Murder. And so much for authenticity, or not, but the welcoming speech is something we all have heard in some form or the other. “Look to your left, look to your right, only one of you will survive.” Yawn!! I already have a crick in my neck.

The diverse cast seemed like a good idea. But the banking industry on both sides of the pond is notorious for being an all-inclusive boys club, and is also predominantly white. The intentions for the diverse cast are well placed, but they just don’t ring true on the screen. We see the same tropes, about young guns breaking the rules, offending the seniors in the process, but then ultimately being felicitated for the bravado. In an effort to make everyone real and relatable, the flaws in each character are spelt out. But it all makes the characters look horribly shallow and weak. There is an instance when Harper messes up, and she is nearing a breakdown, but we never really fully grasp the magnitude of the error or what it actually entails. The only person with something resembling a moral centre and who is remotely likeable is Eric Tao, one of the managing directors at Pierpoint and the resident guiding beacon for the meandering Harper.

Banking and investment banking has often been dubbed as the nerve centre for all capitalism, and with such amounts of money at their disposal, it’s little wonder, then, that nervous breakdowns, drugs, partying and other vices become part of the package. But Industry is not the bare-it-all account of the trading floor, nor is it a moralistic take. Maybe the show ripens up in the second half, and the characters develop their arcs. Till then you can watch the episodes weekly as they drop and play ‘predict the plot’.

This article is based on four episodes made available for review.

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