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HBO’s New Drama ‘Industry’ Lands on Showmax

‘If Euphoria and Billions had a baby”

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After complaining about delays in the arrival of the 3rd season ‘Succession’, someone in our content meetings suggested I give ‘Industry’ a try. Now streaming on Showmax, the British investment banking drama, which aired originally on HBO, also has a black female lead. That’s dope enough to close the deal, so I’m bingeing this weekend!

The series is described as what would happen if “Euphoria and Billions had a baby on HBO”. Both award-winning shows should be on your watchlist, so that’s quite a striking elevator pitch.

Industry explores the fast-paced, complex, and stone-cold world of international  finance through the lenses of ambitious twenty-somethings on the grind to secure their futures.

The eight-part BBC-HBO series follows a group of young graduates competing for a limited set of permanent positions at a top investment bank in London – but the boundaries between colleague, friend, lover, and enemy quickly blur as they immerse themselves in a corporate culture defined as much by sex, drugs, and ego as it is by deals and dividends.

As Radio Times says, Industry “puts the high into high finance… replete with drug-taking, nightclubs, sex and spreadsheets.”

Penned with candid insider intel by former bankers Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, Industry takes us inside the world of high finance through the eyes of an outsider, Harper Stern (Myha’la Herrold), a talented and ambitious rookie from upstate New York.

The series is produced by Bad Wolf (The Night Of, His Dark Materials), with the tone for the show set by Golden Globe winner Lena Dunham (Girls), who directed the pilot.

The story of hungry, bright young things trying to figure out whether there’s more to life than the bottom line was, tragically, inspired by a young German intern at a London investment bank, who collapsed in the shower and died in 2013. He had, his fellow interns said, worked through the night eight times in two weeks.

“The story made me think of all of those hidden lives that we all lead,” says Bad Wolf co-founder and Emmy winner Jane Tranter (Succession, The Night Of). “We all can sometimes look like a serene swan moving across the water but our feet are paddling furiously underneath. One of the things drama does best is to lift the lid.”

“We wanted to ask what makes people of that age work the ridiculous hours that some institutions get people to work,” she says. “At what point does that make them feel better or worse about themselves? And what does it say about our culture generally?”

Down and Kay’s fresh take was to approach the world of high finance as a character drama. “We were obsessed with the idea of the trading floor as an anthropological place to study human beings,” Kay says. “You’re forced to sit next to each other for 12 hours a day, it’s super high intensity, you’re promised this meritocracy but it’s incredibly hierarchical… we thought if we could capture that authentically, it would be a hotbed for drama.”

They were well aware, however, that there have been dramas set in finance before. “Things set in finance are usually a) quite boring – because that world can be quite boring or b) they’re usually derivative of something else because they’re usually seen from the top down,” says Down. “The way in we thought was interesting was from the bottom up, from a young person’s eyes. It’s one of the only workplaces where you’re expected to be a fully formed person from the minute you get there.”

Down and Kay created an ensemble cast of disparate outsiders who, because of the competitive process that will see only some of them get permanent jobs, are both friends and adversaries for every waking hour. And they don’t have to be likeable or scrupulous to be hugely compelling.

“Our thing was, if you write about these 21-year-old kids and you put them on screen next to these adults, you have this immediate sense of empathy – it’s like, Christ, they’re babes in the wood. They’re like children in this ridiculous machine. Which is exactly what we felt like working in finance.”

Industry’s diverse ensemble cast includes Herrold, Harry Lawtey (Marcella), Nabhaan Rizwan (1917, the upcoming Station Eleven), Marisa Abela (Cobra), and David Jonsson (Deep State) as the graduates, with Freya Mavor (The ABC Murders, Skins), Will Tudor (Game of Thrones), Conor MacNeill (Death and Nightingales, Artemis Fowl) and Ken Leung (High Maintenance, Marvel’s Inhumans) as management.

In Industry, everyone looks the part but no one fits in. That’s part of the point, says Down. “We always wanted to write a show that captured being in your twenties and going into a job for the first time. I remember working at the bank and from an emotional, psychological perspective you could outsource your entire personality to this job – I could put on a suit, wear a really nice tie, go to my big job in the city and pretend to be an adult. But you’re not an adult. You don’t know who you are.”

Industry is already earning five star reviews in places like The Guardian and The Independent, who hail it as, “A millennial Mad Men with plenty of swagger… The kind of thrillingly fresh series that only comes along once every few years, a drama that makes its rivals look tired and uninspired….”

The first five episodes are streaming on Showmax.

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Netflix

Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed

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We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.

When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.

A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.

The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.

This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.

Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.

Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.

After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.

Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.

In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.

After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.

Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.

THE ENDING

Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.

Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.

In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?

Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.

We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.

What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.

We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.

Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.

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First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’

DRACARYS!

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Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.

The House of Dragon

Photo Credit: HBO via Twitter

First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe,  the world ready to let old baggage go.

The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.

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Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it

‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.

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The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.

While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.

Midnight Mass

“The LORD’s angel”‘s life giving blood comes scams locals into horrible mistakes on Midnight Mass.

When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.

With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.

It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.

We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.

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