Investment Banker TV Shows?

dc22's picture
Rank: Baboon | 108

Why aren't there any Wall Street/IB TV Shows out there?

Was watching Suits and it made me wonder why there aren't any TV shows about Wall Street/Investment Bankers. You've already got TV shows about lawyers, doctors, politicians, etc so why couldn't Wall Street work?

Are there any shows that exist that I should check out? Thanks

Comments (44)

Sep 16, 2018

The $treet and Wall Street Warriors might be worth checking out. They're kind of old and didn't run for a very long time - which is maybe why no other network has picked up another IB TV show.

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Sep 19, 2018

Wall Street Warriors was such a fucking clown show. I remember watching in college and thinking they were the shit, then watched again recently and realized its a bunch of boiler room hustlers and shitty day traders riding the tide in 2006.

Sep 16, 2018

That's because shows about office pros are difficult to write. Border patrol, SWAT teams, agents of espionage, mercenaries etc. all have aspects of every-man life, nuance, and forbidden thrill to them. What forbidden thrill is there to getting an email from your boss at 2AM? And I wouldn't think an exactly large swathe of America would be able to perceive the nuance in portfolio optimization or credit analysis. Even Mad Men was a stretch: they had to go back to the 1960's and make the show a period piece to make advertising seem like more than a shallow walk with well-dressed yuppies.

That said, check out Billions. Some like it, I stopped watching only because I've been weaning myself off TV. But I thought it was a decently entertaining show that went through a few hoops to be as authentic as it could be.

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Sep 16, 2018

Thank you for the suggestion, I'll check it out.

Obviously, no ones gonna watch some monkeys work on an excel document for hours each day but its the same shit with lawyers - they spend hours on word each day and they manage to make shows like Suits interesting. The Wolf on Wall Street was successful as fuck - why can't a TV show about the rich lives of The MDs and PE/VC/HF guys who have money, power and hot women.

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Sep 16, 2018

Lawyers face moral challenges on the job every day if you give them a conscience. Litigating divorce, child custody etc. can be very emotionally engaging for people. But what angle do you see of that in finance? The moment you inject emotion into finance, people begin to think the money people are thieves, and that only lets you make movies like WoWS. But I'm definitely no creative; the fact I can't think of anything only means I can't think of anything, not that there isn't anything to think of. Someone will find something one day, hopefully. Or maybe not hopefully.

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Sep 16, 2018

Pretty much any show can be about money, power and hot women. If you're going to base it around a career, you might as well make it a lawyer/doctor/congressman/cop so there is a "big reveal" a the end. I don't really know how you do that with a finance type job. To hype it up, you have to make the guy sleezy or give him a gun; think WoWS or The Accountant.

Another factor is most writers don't exactly understand wall street. They probably don't understand science or law, but they can at least write it to make it seem right. That's why in a movie, shocking evidence always comes forward; writers don't know about discovery.

I guess you could do it like you said, maybe a banker vs banker. I feel writers/producers would go for a different profession first. Maybe make a ponzie scheme show?

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Sep 16, 2018

Hey man, you should def get back into Billions. The most recent Season 3 is the best; and actually focuses quite a bit more on the finance side (there's an episode where everyone at Axe is freaking out about algorithms taking their jobs)

"It is not our circumstance that controls us, but our thoughts that control our circumstance." -James Allen

Sep 16, 2018

Banking does no translate well into TV, unless there's corruption and scandals involved. Pretty much every banking movie I can think of revolves around those. A story based on the day-to-day activities at a bank, would be as interesting as trying to make a film about some law clerk doing doc review.

"Margin Call" must be closest movie I can think of, which revolves directly around an Investment Bank - with the dramatic element around the financial crisis.

"Barbarians at the gate" managed to entertain, even though the premise was a M&A bidding war. Though revolving around PE firms, I guess you could write something like this too.

Sep 17, 2018
tackytech":

"Margin Call" must be closest movie I can think of, which revolves directly around an Investment Bank - with the dramatic element around the financial crisis.

"Barbarians at the gate" managed to entertain, even though the premise was a M&A bidding war. Though revolving around PE firms, I guess you could write something like this too.

These two plus the Big Short are the best/most accurate finance viewing from Hollywood. The day to day of banking isn't interesting enough for daily viewing. To make it media worthy it takes an event driven scenario.

Sep 16, 2018

Agreed, aside from Billions there are no shows that really come to mind that depict the finance industry.

However, I could definitely see a show being made about distressed debt or frontier markets investing. While a film and not a show, you could say the Marc Rich movie coming out hits the second category and could eventually be made into a TV series.

One more thing, with regards to investment banking shows, Sage Kelly's career could be made into an HBO show because that network specializes in depicting scandalous, amoral characters. He is not the only one like that in the industry. Anyone in the know understands that there is a good amount of similar but not necessarily as intense type of behavior displayed by select director and MD types at every bank.

Funniest
Sep 17, 2018
dc22:

Why aren't there any Wall Street/IB TV Shows out there?

I cannot imagine something more boring

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Sep 17, 2018

The target audience for a finance show would be people working in finance who, largely, do not have much time to watch television.

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Sep 17, 2018

I liked Billions but that show is devolving quickly (decisions made by Axe in general and specifically when it comes to Wendy are outrageous and don't get me started on the whole Taylor Mason character). Other than that, no idea

Sep 17, 2018

Also, lets not forget that the average american loves/respects the police, doctors and (to a lesser extent) lawyers....

Bankers....not so much

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

Sep 17, 2018

This is correct. Really the only time you hear about bankers it's when something goes wrong. In a way, that's cops too, though cops do get good stories about them. For example, 1mn cops can do there job correctly, but one cop is too aggressive, and they all get torn down.

"Ballers" is kinda like a finance show. The Rock plays a financial advisor. I watched a couple of episodes, could have been done better from a finance perspective.

Sep 17, 2018

I'm really surprised at the number of people who think a finance show would not attract any viewers. Obviously it would have to be heavily dramatized a la Suits, but given the right treatment...

Off the top of my head, you could do standalone episodes on dramatic takeover battles with an underlying story on the life of the MD's and analysts/associates (including office backstabbing, promotion battles etc etc - you get my drift).

Or you could do a dramatized mini-series on gamechanging takeovers (think Barbarians, Arcelor-Mittal) which already have a fair bit of maneuvering going on for them. Throw in some made-up corporate espionage and you could end every episode on a cliff hanger.

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Sep 17, 2018

I believe there is a drama show about investment banking/trading that's from the 90s... I can't remember the name. I didn't enjoy watching it all that much, but doesn't mean someone else can't do it better.

Sep 17, 2018

Its a Canadian show called "Traders". 1996-2000
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traders_(TV_series)

Sep 17, 2018

Funny thing about suits it seems like 25% of the work they do branches off into banking and not law. It definitely expands the definition of lower.

Array
Sep 17, 2018

Their misuse of very basic terms (calling HF folks "investment bankers") really took me out of that story arc (re: where Mike effectively joins a HF and is able to run around sourcing and closing deals without any guidance from the managing partner until shit hits the fan). I cringed every time he (or someone else) called himself an investment banker.

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Sep 17, 2018

Those are not basic terms for USA target market. You go to middle America and they don't have a clue what an ibanker does.

Array
Sep 17, 2018

Billions is pretty good so check that out. Call me biased here but I'd love it if there was a TV version of "Wall Street" - plenty of material out there, heck even right in here on WSO, to keep the show fresh for a few seasons. :)

Sep 17, 2018
the_gekko:

Billions is pretty good so check that out. Call me biased here but I'd love it if there was a TV version of "Wall Street" - plenty of material out there, heck even right in here on WSO, to keep the show fresh for a few seasons. :)

Idea's go quick though. For most shows, you have a handful of characters and each needs development.

Remember "The League", the show about fantasy football. One would think they could go a couple of seasons on that idea. However, about 25% into season two it became more of a generic comedy show with football sprinkled in.

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Sep 17, 2018

Great point but why did you have to use the League as an example man? You just brought me down cause I liked season 1 a lot and then they royally fucked it but good... :)

Sep 17, 2018

'Traders' is an excellent show which aired in the 90s. It is about a boutique investment bank in Canada (I think Vancouver) and covers all aspects of the bank (trading, IB, equity research).

Very dramatic about the ups and downs of being a partner at a boutique. You can watch all of the episodes on YouTube.

Sep 17, 2018

billions

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Sep 17, 2018

Bad Banks on Hulu--it's German, so gotta watch with subtitles.

It ain't what you know, it's who you know

Sep 18, 2018

A tv show doesn't have to be a drama...a comedy like Office Space or The Office might work.

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Sep 19, 2018

If you start to move away from banking more generally and into the markets side of the industry, the concept of a TV show becomes increasingly amusing (to me at least).

The Hero: Providing liquidity to the market; Ensuring the optimal allocation of capital among competing ventures; Producing a steady income stream for pensioners to live off.

The Villain: Misleading performance presentation; Poor record retention; Hidden charges.

I think the reality of the situation is that the finance industry in general is simply just not that interesting to the layperson. Even if you look at the film Wall Street, in order to make it work, Bud Fox was a broker, a trader, a sales person, an equity research analyst, an investment banker and a private wealth manager all in one. As such, whilst I am sure that one could write a TV series with more interesting protagonists, antagonists and plot lines than I have described above, I can't see how it would be in any way realistic or sustainable if the film Wall Street needs to depart from reality so much in order to make it interesting.

Sep 19, 2018

The movie "equity" is a push in the right direction IMO, pretty alright watch about an ECM banker.

Equity - Movie Trailer

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Sep 22, 2018
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Sep 23, 2018
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