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Industry's Harper is the most fascinating character on TV right now

  • NPR

    What makes the HBO financial world drama "so arresting is one bought soul in particular: Harper (Myha'la Herrold), a young woman who is every bit an outsider amongst her peers – a Black American who went to a 's*** uni(versity),' as one grad puts it," says Aisha Harris. "Harper is the embodiment of the old adage handed down to generations of Black youth everywhere, 'You must be twice as good as any white person in order to succeed,' and she knows it. This creates an inherent chip on her shoulder, a personal arc she must contend with while fighting through this high-stakes program, not unlike, say, the brilliant, real-life Black women depicted in the 2016 biopic Hidden Figures. The thing about Industry, though, is that it dares to call into question whether or not this protagonist (or anti-hero?) is actually underestimated unjustifiably. What if she's not really as good as the others, much less twice as good? Harper's default mode is guarded and wary, and from the very first episode, it's clear she has at least one glaring skeleton in her closet – she didn't exactly graduate from that 's*** uni' – for personal reasons only partially explained in a later episode – and so she summons an ex to create a fake transcript for Pierpoint & Co. She can be timid and hesitant, stammering and shaking when dealing with shrewd, high-powered clients (and potential clients), giving off the impression she has no idea what she's doing. Her uber bro-y boss and mentor Eric (Ken Leung), who also happens to be an American, chastises her for being too 'quiet and nice.'She takes this criticism to heart. Harper can also be dangerously impulsive, flouting workplace etiquette and going behind managers' backs with risky moves which threaten the bank's longstanding accounts. She spends the fourth episode a jittery mess, attempting to cover up an error that could puts Pierpoint & Co. at a significant loss. (As someone whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of dividends and short-selling, I won't even pretend to understand the details of how this happens, but the extreme close-ups on Harper's frightened face and the desperation in her voice effectively translate the DRAMA.) It's a rookie move, but it's what Harper does next that transports her from the realm of relatively innocent precocious go-getter to a baby Annalise Keating – messy, conniving, and brutal in her quest for survival."

    TOPICS: Industry, HBO, Myha’la Herrold