WHY ‘BAD BANKS’ IS SO REMARKABLE
It’s too bad more people aren’t aware of this show.
In the midst of so much great television, it’s easy to get lost in noise or miss the gems. Yet, Bad Banks, a German production that highlights the pitfalls of the German banking system, and ultimately, banking systems at large, is absolutely fantastic, and stands unmatched.
The thriller, created and written by Oliver Kienle, centers on a young investment banker, Jana Liekam (Paula Beer) as she tries to navigate the banking world. Her brilliance is constantly tested whilst she tries to uphold her morals and values in the face of intense pressure where her multitude of choices seem to defer to only two: either hurt someone else to get what you want or forego an opportunity that will lead to greater achievements.
Her romanticized expectations of being a successful business professional with a flourishing personal life, is piqued with moments of uncertainty and shattered remnants of her ideals; evidence of the ruthless personalities of many of her peers. She’s initially assigned to quietly comply with an unfair arrangement that requires her to give credit for her work to Luc (Marc Limpach), the son of her employer. But in a slip of the tongue, an action that seemed warranted at the time, during a business pitch with a client, she takes charge and alludes to the idea that she may hold a more prominent role in a project than initially projected. That event sets off instances where she’s thrust into the dirty realities of the unscrupulous people in finance and soon every reaction and strategy is conceived in the name of survival.
Jana’s life is soon pinched with distress, bursts of panic attacks and sleepless nights as she struggles to grasp any chance to remain on course with her ambitions. It’s this quality that makes her a target to be exploited by veterans in her field.
Bad Banks is unlike others in the past that try to take on wall street and banking cultures. It’s vivid and halting in its ability to translate the tense and often precarious emotions throughout the series. In effect, it intensifies the haunting feeling of uncertainty and angst that often comes with thrillers of its type and it forces viewers to constantly fight the feeling of being on edge, with the constant anticipation of a big event coming that will render one dumbfounded and shocked. The enchanting nature of the show lies in its ability to capture the reality that a financial crisis can traumatize (as history has shown) and is not exclusive to the past. It forces audiences to surrender to the capricious whims of the people that hold power.