June 3, 2019  (Web Review)

Bad Banks

Kino Lorber, 2 discs, 321 min., in German w/English subtitles, not rated, DVD: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

This German TV series, aired in the U.S. on Hulu, takes a rather melodramatic view of the European financial services industry. Jana Kiekam (Paula Beer) is an investment banker in Luxembourg who is fired from her job through the scheming machinations of her boss, Christelle Leblanc (Désirée Nosbusch). Unable to find similar work in her home country, she is forced to leave her boyfriend and his adorable 5-year-old daughter and take a position in Frankfurt, Germany. But this new job is even more perilous for Jana, who is further isolated by aggressive male colleagues unacquainted with the notion of gender equality and unfamiliar with female co-workers—particularly the unpleasant Thao (Mai Duong Kieu). Incredibly, Christelle comes back into her life and spins a scheme that has Jana beholden to her. Bad Banks serves up an uneven mix of melodrama, thriller, and soap opera, while offering a wild spin on office politics and global finance. But the real draw here is the Beer-Nosbusch chemistry, which crackles in a toxic kinetic manner in this series that easily qualifies as a guilty pleasure. Compiling all six episodes from the 2018 debut season, this is a strong optional purchase. (P. Hall)