Category Archives: Billions

Is Billions Worth It?

Is there anything so prophetic about a channel than this gif?

Dexter fall

Showtimes shows have a tendency to start out at a reasonable pace and then things spin out of control until we are laughing at something that should be serious. Dexter, Homeland, Weeds, House of Lies the list goes on. They all have this chip on their shoulder that eats away at their authenticity. The shows scream “look at me, I’m edgy like HBO” and yet the shows seem to force their way into dramatic or taboo territory rather than walk into it naturally. And for as many good things there are about Billions you can already see the hints it can and will get ridiculous. What is below is a bit of a write-up/primer on the first two episodes. some information could be spoilers I try not to reveal too much of the bigger twists. but Be warned if you don’t like any spoilers don’t read too much of this article.

Billions, pits two great actors Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti against each other in a fascinating game of cat and mouse.

Damian Lewis (Life, Band of Brothers, Homeland) is Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, the streetwise self-made billionaire hedge fund manager. To make his self-starting ways even more “heroic” he is the sole survivor of 9/11. He has his hands in a lot of sketchy insider trading deals, bribing CEO, etc. Will we see at the end of the season the “Axe” actually knew about the attacks that day and shorted stocks before skipping the meeting that killed his coworkers? I don’t know I have seen a few Showtime shows and that “twist” I can see coming a mile away, call it Checkov’s kids of dead partners getting full college tuition. Don’t get me wrong Damian absolutely chews up the scene everytime he’s there. He also gets quite a few of the best lines. “Whats the point of having ‘fuck you’ money” if you don’t use it to say fuck you?” and in the second episode where he absolutely verbally destroys a rival. There will be an interesting dynamic here you will have to ask yourself, who is he actually hurting with his insider trading? If he is using his riches to take a few trust fund douches and old money assholes down a peg isn’t he a Wall Street hero? And Damian Lewis is just so damn charismatic you wanted to cheer for him in the first 2 seasons on Homeland too.

Paul Giamatti (Shooter, John Adams, Sideways) plays US Attorney Chuck Rhodes, he has a perfect record and likes to tell everyone how he plays 3-D chess. You are first introduced to him as he is tied up with a dominatrix woman putting out a cigarette on him and then cooling it off by pissing on him. That is the first scene in the show. Chuck is a formidable foe to “Axe” and knows how to manipulate events and people just as much as “Axe” does. The first episode has him sentence an old acquaintance of his extremely rich and powerful father who he has a strange relationship with. So far the show is basically Paul chasing Damian by setting up traps and Damian setting up his own traps to counter him only to have Paul see they are traps and try to use that trap against him. It is fun to watch because they are both great actors.

Behind each powerful men is a powerful woman, “Axe” is married to Lara, played by Malin Akerman (Watchman, Children’s Hospital). who is just as tough and cunning and self-made as her husband. Chuck Rhodes SO is Wendy played by Lady Siff, err I mean Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy). Wendy as a twist is an in-house psychiatrist to Bobby Axelrod’s firm. Where all these millionaires come in to bitch about their first world problems and need to be coached up and amped up to do all their trading. As a first class psycologist you would think she would be intuned to her husband, who is a powerful man, and his need to be dominated right? Well, yes turns out she’s the one who was playing watersports with her hubby. See now you don’t have to root against Pal, because he is a cheater, it was his wife! Both characters are pretty good as well, I never had full “Tara” hate, mostly because it wasn’t her fault the way she was written. My big gripes have been the supporting characters.

This might be David Costabile’s (Wire, Breaking Bad, Suits) worst performance in a show, he’s a bit too over the top. He gets all those shitty lines like:

“If you see a short position like that again you grab it like it’s a horse cock and you’re Cathrine the great”
and
“We have to be more pure than the Virgin Mary before her first period.”

Who the fuck writes those lines? It up there with the dialogue choices of Heist “My motherfucker is so cool, when sheep go to be they count him.” The other characters are filled with one-dimensional caricatures in weird settings just to show its edgy-ness. Showtime truly is the Penthouse to HBO’s Playboy. You don’t get them for the writing, but know they will have some raunchy stuff just for the sake of having something raunchy. Water Sports,? Check, Lip Stick Lesbians? Check, a guy hinted to be attracted to midget dominatrix? Oh yeah that’s there too.

I’m not trying to scare you away from the show I like it, just don’t go in expecting Breaking Bad, Sopranos, Better Call Saul. This is a Showtime show so enjoy the first two seasons and hate watch the rest of what will soon become a ridiculous ride.

 

 

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