Billions (TV series)

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Billions
Billions-KeyArt.jpg
GenreDrama
Created by
Starring
Composer(s)Eskmo
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes55 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Brian Koppelman
  • David Levien
  • Christian Soriano
  • Andrew Ross Sorkin
  • Neil Burger
Production location(s)New York City
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time54–60 minutes
Production company(s)
  • Best Available!
  • TBTF Productions Inc.
DistributorShowtime Networks
Release
Original networkShowtime
Original releaseJanuary 17, 2016 (2016-01-17) –
present (present)
External links
Website

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 55 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.[1][2] 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.[3] 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).[4][5] 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.[6][7] The fifth season premiered on May 3, 2020.[8][9]

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

  • 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 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 firm’s 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): 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. Eventually spending time in prison for his crime Chuck transfers him to a white collar prison after making a deal with his brother.
  • David Costabile as Mike "Wags" Wagner: COO of Axe Capital and Axelrod's right-hand man.[10] 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.[11][12][13] 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."[14] Dollar Bill frequently resorts to insider trading and other legally dubious measures to create high returns for Axe Capital.

Recurring[edit]

  • 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. [15]
  • 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.

Guests[edit]

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
112January 17, 2016 (2016-01-17)April 10, 2016 (2016-04-10)
212February 19, 2017 (2017-02-19)May 7, 2017 (2017-05-07)
312March 25, 2018 (2018-03-25)June 10, 2018 (2018-06-10)
412March 17, 2019 (2019-03-17)June 9, 2019 (2019-06-09)
512[20]May 3, 2020 (2020-05-03)TBA

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The series was ordered by Showtime in March 2015,[21] and the first season premiered on January 17, 2016.[22] On January 26, 2016, the series was renewed for the second season,[23] which premiered on February 19, 2017.[24] Showtime confirmed in April 2017 that Asia Kate Dillon, who is non-binary, would be a series regular in the third season.[5] Billions is considered to be the first American TV series to have a non-binary character.[4]

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".[25]

Broadcast[edit]

The first episode was made available on January 1, 2016, via video on demand services in the U.S. and via CraveTV in Canada.[26][27] 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.[28]

Reception[edit]

Critical response of Billions
SeasonRotten TomatoesMetacritic
177% (55 reviews)[29]69 (37 reviews)[30]
289% (16 reviews)[31]67 (6 reviews)[32]
393% (27 reviews)[33]77 (5 reviews)[34]
497% (19 reviews)[35]87 (4 reviews)[36]
586% (7 reviews)[37]76 (5 reviews)[38]

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, 93% for season 3, 97% for season 4, and 86% for season 5..[39] 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."[29] 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."[31] The site's critical consensus for the third season states:"Anchored by the performances of Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis, the third season of Billions continues a convincing fable of greed, power and competition."[33] On Rotten Tomatoes, the fourth season reads, "With tables turned and alliances formed, Billions's fourth season goes full throttle with sharp dialogue, better rivalries, and bigger stakes."[35] 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",[30] while the second season has a score of 67 out of 100, based on reviews from 6 critics, also indicating "generally favorable reviews".[32] 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".[34][36] The show's coverage of the hedge fund industry has been widely recognized as hyper-realistic.[6][7]

In 2017, after introducing Taylor Mason (played by Asia Kate Dillon) in season 2,[40] Billions became the first American TV series to have a non-binary character and actor.[41][42] The series has received positive comments because of its representation of non-binary gender,[43] with praise directed to its depiction of inclusion of non-binary pronouns in the workplace.

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
2017
21st Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film
Maggie Siff
Nominated [44]
32nd Artios Awards Outstanding Achievement in Casting - Television Pilot and First Season - Drama
Allison Estrin
Avy Kaufman
Melissa Moss
Nominated [citation needed]
57th Golden Nymph Awards Best Drama TV Series
Billions
Nominated [citation needed]
2018
8th Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Drama Series
Paul Giamatti
Nominated [45]
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Asia Kate Dillon
Nominated
29th GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series
Billions
Nominated [46]
2019
30th GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series
Billions
Nominated [47]
24th Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Drama / Genre Series
Damian Lewis
Nominated [48]
Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series
Maggie Siff
Nominated
2020
31st GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series
Billions
Pending [49]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Orden, Erica. "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's Office Gets Hollywood Treatment in Showtime Series". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  2. ^ "Where's your turban?'". Rediff. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  3. ^ Groden, Claire (February 4, 2016). "Inside the Secretive World of Hedge Fund Psychiatrists and Performance Coaches". Fortune. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Meet TV's First Non-Binary-Gender Character: Asia Kate Dillon of Showtime's 'Billions'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Patten, Dominic (April 9, 2017). "Showtime's 'Billions' Ups Asia Kate Dillon To Series Regular For Season 3". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  6. ^ a b DeFrancesco, Dan. "A 'Billions' cocreator explains how he cracked into the secretive world of hedge funds to make the show realistic". Business Insider. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Teodorczuk, Tom. "We asked top hedge funders: Does Showtime's drama 'Billions' reflect financial reality?". MarketWatch. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  8. ^ Petski, Denise (May 8, 2019). "'Billions' Renewed For Season 5 By Showtime". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  9. ^ Swift, Andy (November 5, 2019). "Julianna Margulies, Corey Stoll Join Showtime's Billions in Season 5". TVLine. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  10. ^ "David Costabile is Mike "Wags" Wagner - Billions - Season 2". Billions. January 28, 2017 – via YouTube.
  11. ^ Dowling, Amber (February 24, 2017). "Meet TV's First Non-Binary-Gender Character: Asia Kate Dillon of Showtime's 'Billions'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  12. ^ Garrido, Duarte. "Billions shows TV's first gender non-binary character". Sky News. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  13. ^ Jones, Ellen E. "Billions star Asia Kate Dillon: 'I cried when I read the script'". Evening Standard. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  14. ^ "Kelly AuCoin On 'Billions', Playing Dollar Bill & Working With Robert De Niro". March 15, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  15. ^ Feldman, Dana. "'Billions' Recap: This Week's Episode Brings Both 'Redemption' And A Striptease". Forbes. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  16. ^ Petski, Denise (January 24, 2018). "'Billions': John Malkovich Joins Season 3 In Guest Arc". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  17. ^ 'Billions' Season 4 Adds Samantha Mathis (Exclusive)
  18. ^ https://www.wrestlingnewssource.com/news/62982/WWE-Superstar-Becky-Lynch-to-Appear-on-Showtimes-Billions/
  19. ^ "Hikaru Nakamura Stars In TV Series Billions". Chess.com. May 11, 2020. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  20. ^ "'Billions' Showrunners Break Down the Season 5 Premiere and What's to Come". Variety. May 3, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  21. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 24, 2015). "'Billions' Financial Drama Starring Paul Giamatti & Damian Lewis Gets Showtime Series Order". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  22. ^ Braxton, Greg (August 12, 2015). "In Showtime's high-finance 'Billions,' it's show me the money, or else". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  23. ^ Falcone, Dana Rose (January 26, 2016). "Showtime renews Billions for second season". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  24. ^ Prudom, Laura (August 11, 2016). "'Homeland' Sets Season 6 Premiere Date, Schedules 'Billions' Season 2 Return". Variety. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  25. ^ Ross Sorkin, Andrew (April 1, 2019). "Watch CNBC's full interview with Preet Bharara". CNBC. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  26. ^ "Showtime Sets Early Online Premieres For 'Billions,' 'Shameless'". Variety. December 28, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  27. ^ "CraveTV Offers Canadians Free Early Look at New SHOWTIME® Drama BILLIONS, Beginning January 1". Bell Media. December 29, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  28. ^ "SHOWTIME® Series BILLIONS, SHAMELESS, DARK NET and THE CIRCUS: INSIDE THE GREATEST POLITICAL SHOW ON EARTH Anchor The Movie Network's January Lineup". Bell Media (Press release). December 17, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  29. ^ a b "Billions: Season 1 (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  30. ^ a b "Billions: Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  31. ^ a b "Billions: Season 2 (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  32. ^ a b "Billions: Season 2". Metacritic. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  33. ^ a b "Billions: Season 3 (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  34. ^ a b "Billions: Season 3". Metacritic. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  35. ^ a b "Billions: Season 4 (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  36. ^ a b "Billions: Season 4". Metacritic. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  37. ^ "Billions: Season 5 (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  38. ^ "Billions Season 5 Reviews". Metacritic.
  39. ^ "Billions". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  40. ^ "'Billions' Premiere Introduces TV's First Gender Non-Binary Character". EW.com. February 19, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  41. ^ "How 'Billions' actor Asia Kate Dillon uses their platform as 1st non-binary TV star to help others". ABC News. March 19, 2019. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  42. ^ "Asia Kate Dillon on Billions as a Teaching Tool About Gender Identity – Variety". Variety. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  43. ^ "'Billions' actor Asia Kate Dillon explains what it means to be non-binary". ABC News. January 15, 2018. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  44. ^ "Satellite Award Nominees Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  45. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (January 12, 2018). "'Shape of Water,' 'Big Little Lies,' 'Handmaid's Tale' Top Critics' Choice Awards". Variety. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  46. ^ "GLAAD Media Awards Nominees #glaadawards". GLAAD. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  47. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (May 4, 2019). "GLAAD Media Awards: 'Boy Erased,' 'Pose,' 'Gianni Versace' Among Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  48. ^ 24th Satellite Awards Announce Nominations, ‘Ford v Ferrari’ Leads the Way
  49. ^ Gardner, Chris; Howard, Annie (January 8, 2020). "GLAAD Media Awards: 'Booksmart,' 'Bombshell,' 'Rocketman' Among Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 8, 2020.

External links[edit]