Bad Banks is utterly fabulous, so I recommend making time to binge-watch this multilingual German thriller over the upcoming three-day weekend, if not sooner.
The first season of Bad Banks opens with a run on the banks in Germany. ATMs are out of cash, people are panicking, and rioting breaks out in the streets. Live on the scene is a television reporter who references the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on the news, and later a government official appeals to the public to keep their money in the banks and not to believe “exaggerated media reports.”
The story begins eight weeks earlier.
Jana Liekam (Paula Beer, Frantz, The Dark Valley), a young and highly-talented investment banking deal structurer, is having breakfast before leaving for work at Crédit International, a prestigious investment bank in Luxembourg. In Frankfurt, Gabriel Fenger (Barry Atsma, Black Widow, Baantjer Mysteries), “an aggressive risk taker” and new head of investment banking at Deutsch Global Invest, is giving his team a Tony Robbins-like pep talk in German and English. And at what looks to be an abandoned construction site in Leipzig, Mayor Peter Schultheiß (Jörg Schüttauf, The Same Sky, Tatort) looks unwell and is clearly stressed.
The paths of these three individuals and others will cross, with billions of dollars worth of investments, careers, and even lives at stake, after Jana is fired, wrongly blamed for an investor pulling out of a huge deal. Curiously enough, she gets a call from a recruiter while sobbing over her dismissal. Fenger wants to meet with her in Frankfurt. Tomorrow.
This dream job for Jana was arranged by her now-former boss, Christelle Leblanc (Désirée Nosbusch, SOKO Stuttgart, Cenk Batu), a formidable investment banking executive with an ulterior motive for helping to not just save but further Jana’s career.
After impressing Fenger, Jana gets to lead her own team, which includes investment sales guy Adam Pohl (Albrecht Schuch, NSU: German History X, Bukow and König) and analyst Thao Hoang (Mai Duong Kieu, The Quest, Einstein). Then comes the challenge of a lifetime for the trio: selling €6 billion worth of investment bonds in just four weeks for “Leipzig2025,” Schultheiß’s swan song project for his city.
Jana works until she physically collapses. And throughout her short time at Deutsch Global Invest, she’s also been doing recon for Leblanc, quid pro quo for the help Leblanc has been giving her since before day one. Only the you scratch my back, I scratch yours evolves into blackmail. And certain of Jana’s actions raise alarms amongst the powers that be, who now want her gone. Jana has Fenger’s support; whether he has her back is questionable.
When Jana discovers what’s been happening behind closed doors at both Deutsch Global Invest and Crédit International, and realizes the real reason behind Leblanc’s manipulation of her, she puts her own devastating plan in motion.
Bad Banks is excellent. From the suspense-filled narrative and the brilliant acting and directing, to the international settings of Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Leipzig, Paris, London, and Bahrain, and the dialogue in German, French, and English, it is one heck of a binge-worthy must-watch Euro TV series.
Costars in the six hour-long episodes of Season 1 include Jean-Marc Barr (Blood on the Docks), Marc Limpach (Eng nei Zäit), Tobias Moretti (Inspector Rex, Anatomy of Evil), Germain Wagner (Hannah Arendt), and Jeff Wilbusch (The Little Drummer Girl).
Produced by Germany’s Letterbox Filmproduktion and Luxembourg’s Iris Production with the participation of ZDF and ARTE, Bad Banks is written by Oliver Kienle (Four Hands, Stronger Than Blood) and directed by Christian Schwochow (NSU: German History X, Inspector Borowski).
Bank Banks: Season 1, which premiered in the US on April 30th, is currently streaming exclusively on Hulu.
Stay tuned for updates about Season 2, which was commissioned before the first season completed its initial run in Germany.
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