It’s hard to explain a show like Industry for the uninitiated without mentioning succession. And yet I’m a little embarrassed to name the satire about a dysfunctional, wealthy family running a conglomerate of conservative media (nothing to do with Gen-Z bankers). Industry co-creators Mickey Down and Konrad Kay when I speak to them via Zoom.
Both HBO shows — largely similar in that they feature mean, chatty businessmen in puffer vests and have British creators — initially hit the cable network with little fanfare, but slowly gained favor on Media Twitter and among critics. successionwhich has now won multiple Emmys is arguably the biggest gain for the network, along with Euphoria (another show Industry similar in some respects). Still, it sounds a bit reductive to point out the resemblance.
“If Industry had the same bow [as Succession]Me and Mickey would be very happy”, Kay laughs.
Then I remember that Down and Kay, Industryonly writers, make a quick but explicit reference to succession in the penultimate episode of Season 2, revealing that they’re both in on the joke or maybe just manifesting.
Lucky for the creative duo, Industry‘s second season, which premiered Monday, is just as immersive and tweet-worthy as the first, is likely to attract more eyeballs and the Industry beehive. The series begins three years after the hiring of Harper Stern (Myha’la Herrold), Yasmin Kara-Hanani (Marisa Abela), and Robert Spearing (Harry Lawtey) as full-time employees at Pierpoint & Co. after competing for a permanent job at the London bank in Season 1.
Harper and Yasmin are determined to climb the Pierpoint ladder without worrying about the people they encounter along the way, including each other. In the premiere, we find Harper immersed in a booze-filled, quarantine funk that causes tension between her and her domineering supervisor Eric Tao (Ken Leung). She sees an opportunity to come back after meeting an illustrious potential client named Steve Bloom (Jay Duplass), who immediately spots trouble.
Meanwhile, Yasmin begins to yearn for more than just her role at the Foreign Exchange desk, while also becoming oddly incensed with a younger female employee. And just when we think she’s escaped the reign of terror of her former manager Kenny (Conor MacNeill), he resurfaces to give her a passive-aggressive fake apology learned in therapy.
Of course, this is just a small taste of the drama of Season 2. The entire season is an intricate web of storylines, emotional arcs and excursions that range from breathtaking to devastating, but all coherently and carefully executed.
A series with such a sharp, accurate take on banking (and lots of brain-teasing financial jargon) can only be written by those with first-hand experience like Down and Kay, who left the financial industry in their mid-20s for a career in film. and film industry. television.
The writing and production team spoke to The Daily Beast about: Industry becoming a sleepy success, the challenges of writing a second season, and the show’s dominant female perspective.
First, as someone who has tweeted a lot about Industry and since the show slowly became a hit online, I’m curious what it was like to see the reaction to season 1.
Down: It’s beautiful. It’s fantastic. We were stunned by the responses. We had no idea how it would land. And of course in season 1 it was really hard to know how it landed because [of] the pandemic. Everyone was home. We had no marching band. There was no premiere. We haven’t seen anyone personally. We haven’t seen the cast for months. We haven’t seen each other. We did all the remote editing.
I mean, I love that you say everyone’s talking about it, because that really gets me excited. I have absolutely no idea how many people have seen or watched it. I felt like there was a little bit of a bump, in terms of cultural significance, as we say, a few months after it came out. I had this feeling – especially people in the US – suddenly said, “Oh, I’ve seen your show now.” “Oh, people were talking about your show.”
Kay: It is very heartwarming to see how people are doing it. And it’s really nice to just have something in the world and people to be evangelical about it. It’s very exciting.
Did you find writing the second season more challenging? I feel like with season 1 the structure was kind of mapped out for you.
Down: Since we didn’t have the structure of the RIF day and survived the actual original premise of the show, we were like, “We have to be very rigorous in the way we write the show.” We had a real HBO person connect us with Jami O’Brien, the kind of accomplished showrunner writer. She was excellent in the way she basically had to run the show and make a serial story out of eight hours of TV.
As much as I love the first season and think it is, in many ways, very successful and satisfying and works, I think the only thing it doesn’t have is an iron bar story through the whole thing that starts in the first episode and ends in the latter. Criticism of the show, the first season, would be if, the main point of the story, having Eric Harper locked up in that room happens in four or five episodes. And then all of that precipitation is for the rest of the season. I feel like we wanted to start this season at 80 miles per hour and just have a storyline that took us through the whole thing. And I think that was the biggest challenge.
Kay: We were obviously quite intimidated by doing something for HBO for the first time. And I think it got us to stabilize on our writing and our ideas a little bit, and my and Mickey’s ideas in season 2 were like, “What if every scene we just threw like our fastball instead of our to throw punches, ?” And I think the thrill of season 1 was so much a Nathan feature [Micay’s] score and some of the direction and some of the writing – we just doubled that. I feel like I always say this. But there’s more going on in season 2 episodes one and two throughout season 1.
You mentioned Jami O’Brien. How do you think her perspective lent to this season, which focuses primarily on the women at Pierpoint?
Down: Really good question. I think it was probably an organic evolution. I mean, the show was clearly focused on Harper in season 1. I feel like it was a privilege to have Marisa on the show, that we just had to give her more because we love her character. We like to write for her. We think she’s a linchpin of the show.
I feel like Jami’s presence on the show probably pushed their plots there. And I have a feeling – she doesn’t mind me saying this – Jami is older than us. And we also want to see more of Eric. We want to see Eric’s perspective. We wanted the perspective of someone who had been in the business for a while. And Jami was really, really supportive in the fact that we have these ideas. And then she’d push us to the best versions of things, constantly putting obstacles before obstacles that hopefully we can scale. And I feel like it was an organic shift to [Harper and Yasmin].
We meet Steve Bloom aka Mr. COVID in the premiere. How was Jay Duplass cast in this role? I think he’s that good.
Down: The character on the page was a little different. He was originally a little older. He was a bit stricter, more of a typical financial character. He didn’t have the playfulness or the kind of sensitivity that Jay usually brings to his characters. We didn’t even think of someone like Jay, and then the casting team said, “Jay Duplass.” And it was one of those moments where you think, “That’s interesting.” And then you can’t get it out of your head. So Konrad and I became obsessed with the idea that he would play it and had no idea how he would react to it. He even said in the New Yorker interview [that] he hadn’t seen the show. Someone sent him the first season. He watched the first few episodes and said, “What’s this?” Then he was addicted.
“And then the secondary thought was, does anyone want to see a show that’s really about COVID?”
How much fun did you have writing his dialogue? The way he talks is so demeaning and condescending, but in a very specific way.
Down: We loved writing to him. And we were writing the last half of the season as we started filming. So when we saw his performance, it became even easier to write.
Speaking of Mr. COVID, I was wondering how much thought has gone into whether or not portraying the pandemic this season.
Kay: We had two simultaneous thoughts. One wash, we can’t not write about a contemporary workplace and don’t recognize it because of how big it was in the grand scheme of things. And then the secondary thought was, does anyone want to see a show that’s really about COVID? The success of the first season was in a sense that it was this escapist fantasy, especially during COVID. So what we thought was, we had a rule, which was like it would exist in the show’s universe. The characters will have a psychological reaction to it. There will be some masks. There will be hand sanitizer. But the actual current plot would only be peripherally affected by it so it never felt like a story engine, but it could have a psychological impact on the characters.
Yasmin has a very different period of isolation than Harper. She gets heavily into drugs. She leans on her privilege. She just spends a lot of time in people’s homes and has a really good summer, she says. Harper uses it as an excuse not to see people, which is very much in line with Harper. Robert uses it as an excuse to clean up his act and be sober. Kenny has gone to rehab. All these people have had different reactions to it. But it was important to us that it didn’t drive a plot into the current story, because we thought people would get a little tired of the whole thing.
Speaking of Kenny, he shows up in a pretty surprising way towards the end of the premiere. He’s back from rehab. And he regrets to Yasmin, but there is still something wrong with his apology.
Kay: It’s about him and not her. I think that’s what we kept coming back to, like, how can an apology become oppressive? And that’s kind of his apologies to her. As Mickey says, it’s performative. It’s about him. And he constantly returns to the source of, “I’ve changed. I’m going to therapy. Look at me. Look at me.”
Down: We were fascinated by its character, firstly because it feels so true to that world, but also incredibly universal. I mean, I feel like a lot of women have had an experience similar to Yasmin’s under Kenny. And we thought, if he comes back, he can’t do the same. He can’t just harass her in the same way. He’s been warned about that. How does someone who has been admonished for this react? And is that reaction really sincere? And I think what you’re thinking – and I hope the public understands – is the ambiguity of how genuine this kind of conversion is. This may be very restrictive, but he’s still a cunt. He rules in a slightly different way. He has a kind of performative change. And he is patronizing. And it’s a trick.