Many shows to come from this year have approached sexual politics in the workplace before, but perhaps none has done so as vividly and comprehensively as HBO’s latest home run, Industry.
The 8-episode drama series follows five recent global college graduates competing for limited positions at Pierpoint & Co., an investment bank in London. Diverse in thought, backgrounds, and personalities, the grads display a landscape of today’s young adults with great nuance and detail.
The lead, Harper Stern, is an American and introduced as the clear dark horse in the series’ opening episode. She lacks the repertoire and polish of many of her colleagues.
Along with her counterparts, Stern must quickly learn to navigate the complexities, eccentricities, and ethically ambiguous demands of her new position. She is joined by Yasmine Kara-Hanani, a timid but empathetic grad; Robert, a relatively harmless, fun loving airhead; Gus, an incredibly high achieving dynamo; and Hari, and overly attentive workhorse.
The first few episodes of Industry‘s debut season begin slowly, mimicking the graduates emotional experience as they catch on to the workplace politics at Pierpoint. When an early, unexpected tragedy hits the office, it quickly provides a lens through which the graduates can explore how Pierpoint operates, for better or worse. The events that follow contain business meetings and after hours hangouts that provide further context to the grads on the world of investment banking in all its corruption and balls to the wall excitement. Equal parts inspiring and horrifying, the setting is provocative and engaging.
The HBO series blends themes and elements from some of the most successful counterparts on the network.
It weaves together the cutthroat attitudes and quick pacing of Succession with the heavy drug use and chaotic spirit of Euphoria. In melding these two poles together, it produces an endlessly surprising political thriller that compels more and more with each new episode.
One such thematic is exposed in the sexual politics many characters experience throughout the season. One of the most important messages series creators Mickey Down and Konrad Kay relay is that of harassment and unethical behavior. Women are often punished, assumed victims, and mere devices to their male counterparts in the finance world. This is shown from multiple perspectives of well curated characters at Pierpoint.
The creators do this in a beautiful way, juxtaposing the rigid atmosphere of the fluorescent ever present office lighting with the backdrop of one of the most beautiful cities in London. Featuring betrayals, one-sided friendships, and plenty of sexual relationships, Industry leaves everything on screen for viewers to unpack.
What’s so brilliant about the series is that, while at times wildly outlandish, the mysterious motivations of each character are never truly unpacked, even in the season’s closing moments.
The final episode of Industry‘s entry level year will leave viewers questioning which characters to swear their allegiances to as they themselves question the decisions that led them to the current moment. Some are fired, some quit, and others go straight for the jugular in utterly surprising moves.
Like Succession, this first season is only the beginning for this incredible series.