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Not Enough People Are Talking About the Sexiest Show on TV

We need it to come back for Season 3

Liam Mathews
Alex Alomar Akpobome, Myha'la Herrold, and Harry Lawtey, Industry

Alex Alomar Akpobome, Myha'la Herrold, and Harry Lawtey, Industry

Simon Ridgway/HBO

There is exactly one show that I would recommend to both fans of Euphoria and fans of Billions. It's the only show that can raise a viewer's heart rate with the suspense of high-pressure business deals and the titillation of debaucherous sex in equal measure. It looks like Succession and feels like Girls. I'm talking about Industry, the intelligent HBO/BBC drama series following the professional and personal lives of young traders working at a London investment bank. 

Industry should be the show that dominates Twitter discourse every week, as fans argue about which character is the worst person in the world and discuss its graphic sexuality. You should see someone wearing a purple Pierpoint & Co. hoodie in every Eater-recommended brunch restaurant in America. But it remains an under-the-radar cult favorite — so under-the-radar that I'm worried it won't get renewed for Season 3. It will probably get renewed, but it might not now that Warner Bros. Discovery is in its cost-cutting era.

I admit, I am part of the problem. The Season 2 finale premiered on Sept. 19, but I only caught up on HBO Max after the season ended. I was not watching and talking about Industry week to week. But I'm talking about it now, and take it from me, there's no better time to binge this gripping, sexy drama about beautiful and rich young people with distressingly unhealthy relationships to money, substances, other people, and themselves. 

Watch Industry Stream on HBO Max

The show, which premiered in November 2020, follows a core group of recent college graduates working at a prestigious investment bank on London's equivalent of Wall Street. There's Harper (Myha'la Herrold), a brilliant Black American woman whose cutthroat ambition knows no bounds; Yasmin (Marisa Abela), a privileged polyglot Notting Hill native who, unlike Harper, has family money; Robert (Harry Lawtey), an Oxford graduate from a working-class Welsh background who has issues with confidence and alcohol; and Gus (David Jonsson), a Black, gay, politically conservative, snooty son of a diplomat. In Season 1, they're trying to impress their managers and secure full-time positions at the bank once their internships end. In Season 2, they're trying to hold on to their jobs by leveraging whatever advantage they can find. Season 1 was very good, but Season 2 leveled up, putting the show in the upper echelon of current drama series. It's more assured in every way and goes deeper into exploring why these wounded, self-destructive characters are they way they are.

Industry comes from creators Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, both of whom worked in investment banking before becoming TV writers. Their experience is evident. No one who didn't work in finance could write this show. Down and Kay do an extraordinary job rendering the finance industry's impenetrable jargon in a way that allows the layperson viewer to follow. You know how on medical dramas like ER, you have no idea what the words the characters are saying mean, but you understand anyway because of the tension and the context? Industry manages to communicate that sensation without having inherent life-and-death stakes — though it feels like life and death to the characters, which comes through to the audience. The show makes people saying numbers to each other over the phone feel like an action scene. The climactic trade in Season 2, Episode 2 gave me the same thrill I felt watching the bombing mission in Top Gun: Maverick

The action doesn't only take place on the trading floor; it also happens in the bedroom. Industry has the hardest-working intimacy coordinators in the biz. Not since Girls has a show made sex scenes as central to its plot and characters (Girls creator-star Lena Dunham directed Industry's pilot). Industry isn't as innovative in what it depicts as Girls was, but it is as graphic — there's an episode that shows two things Girls got a lot of attention for showing, and it does them both in one scene (we try to keep it PG-13 at TV Guide, so we'll leave it at that) — and it allows itself to be sexier than the earlier cringe dramedy. Industry's characters are unashamedly hedonistic, and when humiliating things happen, they tend to be consensual, though Pierpoint & Co.'s culture of tolerating misconduct and cover-ups is a frequent plot point. Fueled by drugs, id, and proximity, Industry's horny young bankers are constantly hooking up with each other and other people they shouldn't. These relationships fuel the drama and help viewers understand what makes these characters tick. 

The Best Shows on HBO Max Right Now

The characters are all perpetually unsatisfied people trapped on a treadmill of want. ("All the great shows are about the pursuit of success and how that makes you lonely, which is basically what our show is about, too," Mickey Down toldThe Guardian.) They're exploiters and exploited. If you like your TV characters messy, complicated, and human, Industry is for you. The show is almost entirely populated by amoral people it refuses to judge. 

Another reason to watch Industry is to take the long position on the careers of its young stars, many of whom seem to be about to blow up. Myha'la Herrold is marvelous as Harper, a morally bankrupt lost soul whose poised demeanor masks an absolutely chaotic interior life. Her codependent relationship with her manager, Eric (Ken Leung, a great "that guy" actor making the most of the meatiest role of his career), is the show's toxic heart, as the culture of Pierpoint & Co. pushes them both to be the most ruthless version of themselves. Herrold recently appeared in the buzzy horror-comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies and will star alongside Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, and Mahershala Ali in the upcoming big-budget Netflix drama Leave the World Behind. She'll be a household name within a few years, because she's on the kind of career trajectory that leads to a big franchise role. She didn't get Star Wars last time, but she might next time. Her co-star Marisa Abela, meanwhile, will be in Barbie and is reportedly the top choice to star in an Amy Winehouse biopic. Industry is minting new stars, which is what TV is supposed to do.

Industry is probably too niche and tonally icy to be a major hit. If it hasn't happened after two seasons, it probably won't happen at all. But hopefully enough people are watching it on HBO Max to bring it back Season 3. HBO Max doesn't release viewership numbers, but its linear ratings on HBO are minuscule, which indicates that even if more people are watching it on streaming than on cable, which is likely, it's still not a lot of people. Back in 2020, the show was picked up for Season 2 before Season 1 was over. That hasn't happened for Season 3, so if you watched and enjoyed Industry Season 2, tell all your friends to watch it. And if you haven't watched it yet but are even a little bit interested, watch it soon. It's an investment worth making.