Review by Sean Boelman
Presumably to capitalize on the success of their smash hit Succession, HBO is bringing subscribers another boardroom drama, this time set in the world of finance. Mickey Down and Konrad Kay’s Industry lacks the wit and punch of the series in whose shadow it lives, but it has enough charm in its own right to be mostly impressive.
The series follows a group of fresh-out-of-school bankers competing to rise through the ranks at a prestigious investment firm. One of the problems with this show is that it is enormously difficult to follow because of its precisely technical nature. But even more cumbersome is the fact that the writers simply don’t seem to care whether or not the audience understands it.
Sure, there are plenty of moments that speak for themselves. A sequence in which we watch a computer screen as a deal goes down and can see the numbers fluctuating is absolutely riveting. But for the most part, a majority of viewers simply won’t know what is happening in most of the story and it is the behind-the-scenes drama that will keep them intrigued.
Thankfully, in their first series, Down and Kay invest a lot of effort into building their characters. Yet even though they do a good job of making the characters compelling, there are still some noticeable shortcomings. As is the case with most ensemble pieces, there are certain storylines that are more effective than others, and the writers fail to recognize which ones truly stand out.
The main cast is mostly made up of relative newcomers, and they all do a good job. Myha’la Herrold is the clear stand out as the de facto lead, bringing a lot of sly charm to the role. The supporting cast features some veteran performers, like Ken Leung, who is excellent albeit a bit underused as the mentor figure.
It’s also worthy of note that the series is surprisingly steamy. The sexual tension between the characters is a real driving force and defines much of the pacing. Unfortunately, it feels like this could crumble at any moment, turning its sensuality into banality and losing much of its impact in the process.
Stylistically, the show is shot about as expected, like a high-stakes thriller (albeit with a melodramatic edge), and it’s pretty effective. The cinematography and editing are aggressive and rapid, a significant factor in the series being so disorienting. Nathan Micay’s score is also unusual, but in a more successful way.
Industry isn’t going to be as acclaimed as its creators are surely hoping. Still, the first half of the series is exhilarating enough to be a sufficient hook to make viewers excited to see what comes next.
Industry debuts on HBO on November 9 at 10:00 ET/PT with subsequent episodes airing on Mondays at the same time. Four out of eight episodes reviewed.