Billions (TV series)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||53 (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||New York City|
|Running time||54–60 minutes|
|Original release||January 17, 2016 –|
Billions is an American television drama series created by Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and Andrew Ross Sorkin. The show first aired on Showtime in January 2016, and has, since then, produced five seasons for a total of 51 episodes. The series is often set in large financial centers, including most notably New York and Connecticut. The series tells the story of hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), its main protagonist, as he accumulates wealth and power in the world of high finance. Axelrod's aggressive tactics to secure high investment returns frequently cross over into the illegal; acts which United States Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) attempts to prosecute. A large ensemble secondary cast supports the series story arcs in a dynamic, thematically, between law enforcement and private enterprise.
Most seasons plot lines are "ripped from the headlines" by mirroring real-life prosecutions of financial crime by federal authorities. The series was inspired by the investigations undertaken by Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017, from which Giamatti's antagonist originates. The Southern District's prosecution of hedge fund manager Steve Cohen of S.A.C. Capital Advisors in 2013 loosely influenced the first season while Salomon Brothers' manipulation of U.S. Treasury bonds in 1991 inspired the second. The series also interweaves various subplots with Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), a psychiatrist turned performance coach, Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon), a market analyst, and Mike "Wags" Wagner (David Costabile), Axelrod's right-hand man.
The series has received generally positive reviews from the critics and public. Billions is considered to be the first American TV series to have a non-binary character (Taylor Mason). As such it was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series in the 29th, 30th, 31st GLAAD Media Awards, for its representation of the LGBTQ community. Overall, the series has been nominated for multiple Satellite Awards as well as a Critics' Choice Award and Artios Award – the latter for its pilot episode. The show's coverage of the hedge fund industry has been widely recognized as hyper-realistic. The fifth season premiered on May 3, 2020.
- Paul Giamatti as Charles "Chuck" Rhoades, Jr.: U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who later attempts a run for Governor of New York and is elected Attorney General of New York. Rhoades is ruthless and has a particular distaste for wealthy criminals who try to buy their way out of justice. Despite his significant power as U.S. Attorney, Rhoades struggles not to be overshadowed both by his higher-earning wife, Wendy, and by his well-connected and very rich father. He went to Yale (as did his wife and his father) and has a blind trust of which his father is a trustee. In private, he and his wife engage in BDSM role play, with Chuck acting as Wendy's "slave." The character is loosely based on Preet Bharara, and to a lesser extent, Eliot Spitzer.
- Damian Lewis as Robert "Bobby" Axelrod: an ambitious billionaire manager of a hedge fund called Axe Capital and a Hofstra University graduate who came from humble beginnings. He was one of his firms survivors of the September 11 attacks, reforming it as Axe Capital and paying the college tuition of the children of his colleagues who died in the World Trade Center. He is extremely charitable and generous in public, but uses insider trading and bribery to grow his firm's enormous wealth. He has animal-like instincts that allow him to be extremely successful in his trading career. The character is loosely based on Steve Cohen and his former hedge fund SAC.
- Maggie Siff as Wendy Rhoades: a psychiatrist, in-house performance coach at Axe Capital and wife of Chuck Rhoades, Jr. She is self-possessed, motivated, and extremely successful. She has a strong relationship with Axelrod, her boss, with whom she has been working for more than 15 years. She participates with Chuck in various BDSM role play activities as Chuck is a sadomasochist.
- Malin Åkerman as Lara Axelrod (starring season 1–3, recurring season 4–present): wife and later ex-wife of Bobby Axelrod and a former nurse (who maintains her professional license). She is from a lower-class, blue-collar upbringing but has left her former self behind. She was devoted to her husband and their children. Her brother Dean was a firefighter who died during the 9/11 attacks. Lara disapproves of Axe's close relationship with Wendy.
- Toby Leonard Moore as Bryan Connerty: the Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force for the Southern District of New York and Rhoades' point man at the start of the series; he later succeeds Rhoades as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York until he engages in illegal witness tampering.
- David Costabile as Mike "Wags" Wagner: COO of Axe Capital and Axelrod's right-hand man. He is a known drug and sex addict and claims cocaine helps him focus on work.
- Condola Rashād as Kate Sacker: a former head of crime and Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, now attorney in Rhodes offices as Assistant to Attorney General of New York. She is biding her time until she has the opportunity to run for Congress. Her ultimate goal is to be President of the United States.
- Asia Kate Dillon as Taylor Amber Mason (recurring season 2, starring season 3–present): an analyst at Axe Capital who becomes close to Axelrod, is appointed CIO of Axe Capital, and later forms Taylor Mason Capital in competition with Axe Capital. Later, they are forced back to Axe Capital as a subsidiary in-house fund under Axelrod's control.
- Jeffrey DeMunn as Charles Rhoades, Sr. (recurring season 1–2, starring season 3–present): Chuck's father, a very wealthy and well-connected city/state power player who often uses his position to meddle in his son's affairs. He was abusive towards his ex-wife, and frequently cheated on her. He had a child with, and then married another woman.
- Kelly AuCoin as "Dollar" Bill Stearn (recurring season 1–3, starring season 4–present): a Portfolio Manager at Axe Capital with extreme loyalty to Bobby Axelrod to the extent he would risk incriminating himself to save Axelrod. He was described by AuCoin as "the cheapest millionaire in America." Dollar Bill frequently resorts to insider trading and other legally dubious measures to create high returns for Axe Capital.
- Dan Soder as Dudley Mafee: an Axe Capital employee who joins Taylor Mason Capital as its first employee.
- Malachi Weir as Lonnie Watley: a former Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. He later joins private law firm after being passed for Head of Crim in favor of Sacker.
- Terry Kinney as Hall: a fixer on Axelrod's payroll who went into hiding after Axelrod's arrest in the finale of season 2 and returned in the middle of season 3.
- Glenn Fleshler as Orrin Bach: Axelrod's legal counsel.
- Stephen Kunken as Ari Spyros: a former law school classmate and colleague at private law firm of Chuck prior to his and Chuck's involvement in public sector as and an investigator for the SEC. In season 3, Spyros becomes head of compliance for Axe Capital.
- Nathan Darrow as Mick Danzig: an Axe Capital employee, whom Axelrod got out of an automatic weapons charge, that quit the firm for ethical reasons after it bankrupted the city of Sandicot, but hired back out of spite against Taylor in Season 4.
- Ben Shenkman as Ira Schirmer: an attorney and a former law school classmate of Chuck, as well as former CEO/Chairman of bankrupted Ice Juice.
- Sam Gilroy as Michael Dimonda: a financial reporter.
- Dennis Boutsikaris as Kenneth Malverne: a rival of Axelrod's who leads a competing hedge fund Season 1 to 2 only.
- Jerry O'Connell as Steven Birch: a rival of Axelrod's who leads a competing hedge fund since season 1.
- Christopher Denham as Oliver Dake: an official misconduct investigator and later United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Fired by Jacob Jeffcoat in middle of season 3 goes on to be a law school professior at George Washington University in Washington DC.
- Daniel K. Isaac as Ben Kim: A graduate from Stanford University and Wharton School of Business, he is a Korean-American employee at Axe Capital since Season 1 Promoted to portfolio manager end of season 3. 
- Will Roland as Winston: Taylor's lead quantitative analyst.
- Rob Morrow as Adam DeGiulio: a high-ranking DOJ employee and later Judge of the Southern District of New York. Chuck manipulated a powerful senator to get him the prestigious job of solicitor general.
- Louis Cancelmi as Victor Mateo: an employee of Axelrod's fired in season 1, funded outside in season 3 and forced back in season 4.
- Jack Gilpin as Sean Ayles: runs Axelrod's foundation for Axelrod after his rise to power is revealed to the public near end of season 1.
- Arthur J. Nascarella as Bruno Caparello: former aging owner of Axelrod's favorite pizza shop bought out by Axe end of season 4.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||12||January 17, 2016||April 10, 2016|
|2||12||February 19, 2017||May 7, 2017|
|3||12||March 25, 2018||June 10, 2018|
|4||12||March 17, 2019||June 9, 2019|
|5||12||May 3, 2020||TBA|
The series was ordered by Showtime in March 2015 with a 12-episode pick up and premiered on January 17, 2016. On January 26, 2016, the series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on February 19, 2017. Showtime confirmed in April 2017 that Asia Kate Dillon, who is non-binary, would be a series regular in season 3. Billions is considered to be the first American TV series to have a non-binary character.
Preet Bharara, the inspiration for U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhodes (portrayed by Paul Giamatti) was somewhat critical of his casting, jokingly referring to the Italian American actor as "noted Indian American actor Paul Giamatti".
The first episode was made available on January 1, 2016, via video on demand services in the U.S. and via CraveTV in Canada. It premiered on Stan in Australia on January 27, 2016 and in Canada on The Movie Network on January 17, 2016, simultaneous with the American broadcast.
Billions has received positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an overall approval rating of 86%, with a rating of 77% for season 1, 89% for season 2 and 93% for season 3. The site's critical consensus for the first season reads: "Despite a lack of likable characters, Billions' soapy melodrama and larger-than-life canvas offer plenty of repeat viewing potential." For season 2 it reads: "An influx of new characters and a fresh narrative twist give Billions an added boost during its thoroughly entertaining second season." On Metacritic, the first season has a weighted average score of 69 out of 100, based on reviews from 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews", while the second season has a score of 67 out of 100, based on reviews from 6 critics, also indicating "generally favorable reviews". Praise for the series has steadily grown over time—also on Metacritic, its third season scored a 77 out of 100, while its fourth currently holds a score of 87 out 100 based on reviews from 4 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". The show's coverage of the hedge fund industry has been widely recognized as hyper-realistic.
|21st Satellite Awards||Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film||Nominated|||
|32nd Artios Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Casting - Television Pilot and First Season - Drama||
|57th Golden Nymph Awards||Best Drama TV Series||Nominated|||
|8th Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|||
|Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|29th GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||Nominated|||
|30th GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||Nominated|||
|24th Satellite Awards||Best Actor in a Drama / Genre Series||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series||Nominated|
|31st GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||Pending|||
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- 'Billions' Season 4 Adds Samantha Mathis (Exclusive)
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- "CraveTV Offers Canadians Free Early Look at New SHOWTIME® Drama BILLIONS, Beginning January 1". Bell Media. December 29, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
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- "Satellite Award Nominees Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
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- 24th Satellite Awards Announce Nominations, ‘Ford v Ferrari’ Leads the Way
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