Dirt: Revisiting Industry
The show that launched this very newsletter.
Monday marks the season 2 premier of HBO’s Industry. The oldest Dirtbags will recall that Dirt launched in December 2020 with a week of content about Industry season 1. Before you dive in to season 2, revisit some of our greatest hits.
The animation is like the beginning of a DJ set or the filmic sound effect as a group of astronauts walk out of their spaceship’s hatch onto a new planet, an accelerating fuzz. It sets you immediately into a different, almost alien world. There’s none of the abstract grandeur of the Game of Thrones or The Crown intro animations; it’s just an immediate hit, which fits the drama of bankers trying to land clients while doing ketamine (“ketty”).
Unlike shows like, say, Billions or Succession, which are also ostensibly about Money Stuff Happening, the financial goings-on in Industry are fully, deliciously indecipherable to me. When Harper picks up that chunky phone and starts dictating a deal, my mind goes fuzzy. "Twenty thirty? Thirty fifty." "FX, fifty cable." "The NFP turnaround is pure positioning." "There's a discrepancy on the notional." It's like a fantasy language. Beautiful. There is no strand I can pull in hopes of making sense; it is like listening to radio waves from a distant star.
The Pierpoint “floor” is a world unto itself, nested inside a London that is familiar in its bleakness–the tiniest Matryoshka doll in an accelerating, global capitalist machine that is perpetually undergoing (as episode 7 is aptly titled) pre-crisis activity.
Industry’s London looks like something Damien Hirst dropped from a great height. Between The Shard and The Gherkin, the skyline is more of a CGI error than a work of architecture.
Industry is, for me, a look at another life I could’ve had. I could’ve ended up joining some hedge fund, or become a trader somewhere, had I pushed for a job at one of those kinds of firms, in, say, Hong Kong (where my parentage gives me visa ease). A finance study buddy of mine spent ten grand (New Zealand dollars, which is still outrageous) on three made-to-measure suits — “you don’t work in an M&A firm in Hong Kong with off-the-rack,” he said to me. He was going over for an internship.
— Brian Ng
I think in season two we will see more of Harper's American past — maybe another friend or family member visiting London, who casts doubt on her academic credentials? — and her continued path upward in the bank, in cahoots with Eric, who will eventually become a full villain. The indoctrination arc reminds me of Greg from Succession, another underdog who everyone thinks will eventually take over the family business. How high will Harper's bildungsroman take her? Sadly we won't know until the next Industry Week.