HBO’s ‘Industry’ Season 2 Has a Message for Bosses: Beware the Junior Bankers

Many horrifying forces converge in the finance drama “Industry”: the screaming bosses, the dangerous market bets and the unrelenting pressures. But maybe scariest of all, at the very least to their superiors, are the 20-something strivers able to unseat their elders.

Generational tensions run excessive between the previous guard and the younger Hungarians in the second season of the HBO present beginning Monday. The collection about junior bankers at the fictional London firm Pierpoint & Co. funnels this uneasiness into the character of Eric Tao, performed by Ken Leung. In the waters of the buying and selling ground, the 50-year-old managing director of cross product gross sales is each shark and shark bait.

“Youth terrifies him,” one up-and-comer says, “until he can management it.”

What makes the present much more sobering is figuring out that its characters and storylines are pulled from actual life, with creators Mickey Down and Konrad Kay incorporating the headlines, their very own quick finance careers and interviews with finance executives into the scripts. The preliminary inspiration for Eric got here from a particular person as soon as of their banking orbit—a finance govt they stated remains to be unaware of the connection to the present.

The world is rising from Covid in the present. At Pierpoint, bosses do not have endurance for subordinates who need to maintain working remotely. The drama revolves round meme shares, the real-world trades that gained a large following on social media. Eric’s white-tablecloth enterprise breakfasts and clubby investor weekends do not slot in a disruptive panorama formed by brash newcomers, together with a billionaire who income off the pandemic.

The new season raises a query: If expertise is not all the time helpful and the worth of seniority is not a given, then what’s the level of an Eric?


Actor Ken Leung, who performs senior banker Eric Tao, stated associates who work in finance say his character provides them PTSD.


Simon Ridgway/HBO

“It’s a very younger particular person’s recreation,” stated Mr. Down, 33, previously of Rothschild & Co.

, repeating what trade insiders advised him about their experiences in finance. “It’s a place the place youth and drive and that first flash of ambition is basically rewarded.”

The present finds Eric preventing for his job towards three rivals, all of whom he employed. That consists of his protégé at the subsequent desk, Harper Stern, performed by Myha’la Herrold.

The writers appeared for generational tensions and located them round topics like wealth. A line reduce from an early script had Harper breaking what Mr. Down calls the cardinal rule of the finance job interview: Don’t say you need to make cash. Harper states it plainly. It’s what some in finance name a “secure-the-bag” mentality, or a directness about the pursuit of wealth and success.

“The actually huge hedge fund managers we spoke to stated that millennial recruits have been skittish about saying, ‘I need to make cash,’ it was thought of type of gaudy, a bit nasty to have that mentality,” stated Mr. Down, referring to conversations he and the group had with executives whereas researching the present. “The Gen Z recruits now have completely no qualms about saying they need to achieve success. They say, ‘I need to get cash.'”

The monetary world has moved over the a long time in the direction of higher range and inclusion, and the present’s casting displays that. But the collection additionally argues that at its core the trade won’t ever change.

“It is not illogical to suppose that in a construction so pleased with its hierarchy, there would not be the most Darwinian relationship to energy doable,” stated Mr. Kay, 34, previously of Morgan Stanley.

“Of course they are going to go to their most elementary natural instincts: ‘How do I get energy? Who’s protecting it from me? How do I maintain it myself?’”

As the story resumes, Eric’s costs are creating wealth, however he’s not. As their boss, Eric argues that the group’s successes are additionally his. But he is advised that he is solely nearly as good as his final deal.

“In the present he talks about, ‘Think about every thing I’ve achieved,’ and his boss is like, ‘None of that issues—what issues is what you probably did this week,'” stated Mr. Leung, 52. “So he has to look for new muscle groups to train. It’s a ‘discovering himself once more’ season.”

At one level, Eric is “promoted” to a nook workplace that he compares to a coffin.

“It tells you one thing about how youth-obsessed the tradition is that we’re speaking about a 50-year-old man like he’s a dinosaur,” stated Jami O’Brien, 48, a author and govt producer of the collection.

Eric is each the voice of the institution and, as an Asian man in a traditionally white world, an outsider. He swaggers with a baseball bat at his desk however fights for his group’s raises. A creature of the buying and selling ground, he cuts his toenails into a wastepaper basket like he is in his personal rest room.

“Plenty of my associates who’re in finance say he provides them PTSD,” stated Mr. Leung. “And then there are different people who find themselves like, ‘I’d have died to have a boss such as you.'”

Before faculty, mr. Leung labored briefly as a Wall Street temp feeding monetary paperwork into microfiche machines. He was struck by the noise and warmth behind the chilly exteriors of the monetary district’s buildings.

One key useful resource for the actor: his son’s elementary college carpool. A dad or mum who works in finance held morning conferences along with his group by telephone whereas driving the automotive. With permission, Mr. Leung listened from the passenger seat. “It simply organically gave me a sense of the texture of this world,” he stated.

Mr. Leung, a native New Yorker of Chinese descent, performed Miles Straume, a risky medium on the ABC tv drama “Lost.” His movie credit embody roles in Brett Ratner’s “Rush Hour,” Spike Lee’s “Sucker Free City” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Old.”

The actor exhibits Eric grappling along with his priorities in the return-to-office world.

“He was motivated by profitable and being good at his job,” stated Ms. O’Brien. “The pandemic has made him query, ‘Was that a adequate motive?’ He’s having a little little bit of an existential disaster at the previous, previous age of fifty.”

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