Equity is a cold, unblinking look at Wall Street’s backrooms, through the eyes of a female dealmaker who’s trying to recover from a failed transaction. Her client’s shares traded too low during the initial public offering, and now she’s got a target on her back. Equity throws us into the immediate aftermath and we watch her as she tries to save her career by putting together a bigger, better deal.
Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) is well cast as the investment banker protagonist. She is cold, smart, and driven, a shark among fish. She never backs down from anyone, and gets us to root for her character without being particularly endearing or warm. That is Equity’s strongest trait: it gets us to respect both Gunn’s character and her antagonist, federal prosecutor Alysia Reiner, without resorting to familiar gender stereotypes for wither character.
If you have at least a passing interest in finance, Equity’s story will draw you in and keep your attention until the end, avoiding most cliches throughout, at least when it comes to the main females. The male supportung characters fare less well, as they are all thinly sketched stereotypes (e.g., sexist boss, backstabbing boyfriend, and frat boy internet sensation). It is refreshing, though, for women to be the most compelling and realistic characters for a change.
Equity is no more or less than a Wall Street drama. It is a well-done addition to the genre, but feels somewhat constrained by its chosen niche. With that said, I appreciated that Equity unapologetically shows that women can be just as ruthless as men and shouldn’t be held to a higher standard based on outdated conceptions of femininity or motherhood. I also liked that the writers did not force a tidy resolution on the audience (which may be tied to the fact that a spun-off TV show is in development).
In the end Equity intentionally leaves the audience cold, but the challenge to gender stereotypes sticks even as the story beats start to fade from memory. I’d count Equity as a success thematically, and it’s entertaining to boot. In financial terms, it’s not a career defining deal but it’s still one that deserves handshakes and high fives all around on closing.