Why I love Season 1 of Billions

Because of Amazon Prime’s trial of including certain Showtime series I was able to watch this series’ first season.

 

Originally after confusing this with HBO’s Succession I became invested in this show from the pilot.

The series opens up with Paul Giamatti’s character being “treated” by a dominatrix.

It was a bold first image and set the tone for how bold this show would go.

In the aughts I feel culturally the discussion about the communities that were first seen as dirty or distasteful has evolved into a more nuanced light.

With shows like FX’s Pose showing the sacrifices these LGBTQ character have to make to live and how for most transwomen and queer men, at the time, sex work is the only real source of income for them.

Through the WHOREible Decisions podcast these powerful women talk about their experience with both being dominated and dominating.

The first real time I had heard about BDSM was from the rumblings about how 50 Shades of Grey is inaccurate and harmful to the community and now with Netflix’s Bonding there’s even a comedic take on the whole experience.

 

I’ve only have limited knowledge of finances from properties like Wolf of Wall Street, Adam McKay’s Big Short and books like Freakanomics but I believe this show does a great job of inviting the audience into the mindset of two gentlemen on opposite sides, Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades.

 

Bobby Axelrod is the founder of Axe Capital and an eccentric billionaire played by Damian Lewis.

Similar to Idris Elba I had no idea Lewis wasn’t an American born actor which is a credit to the authenticity he gives this character.

Bobby is New York born and bred, he got it from the mud scratching and claws his way to the top while suffering heartbreak.

September 11th is close to his heart because he was the only survivor at his firm because he wasn’t in the office that day and has dedicated his substantial resources to the families of the victims who lost their lives.

His own wife Lara Axelrod lost a brother, who was a firefighter, in the aftermath and they have donated hundreds of millions to both the FDNY and the NYPD.

 

Axe is seen and treated like a god among men. His ability to bet off of information, find the trends of the market and recall specific details of events makes him a serious asset to anyone who’s entrusting him with their fund.

He has power, he knows it and uses it for both good and unsavory means.

His experiences as unique, he likes a band so he flies himself and a group of friends to Metallic’s only show in North America.

He values quality so he’ll silently invest into a local pizzeria to save it from closing down.

In renaming the Eads Hall he discounts $16M off the proposed $25M to represent the $16/hour he use to make caddying for Ellis Eads who treated him unfairly and fired him out of frustration.

 

Bobby is flanked by his right hand man Wags played by David Costabile, Hall, a stealthy fixer and Rhoades’ own wife Wendy who serves not only as a phenomenal therapist for the brokers but also her working there is a big source of conflict for the two main protagonists.

 

Chuck Rhoades in a way is his opposite. Though he came from money his wife now makes the lion share of the income from her job as a therapist for Axe Capital.

Instead of taking risks for high reward as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York he only takes cases that he know he’ll win and his undefeated streak is something he takes pride in.

 

He’s first shown as a man of integrity even rejecting pleas from his father’s friend for leniency.

But as the series goes on we begin to see a crueler side.

It’s like he believes he’s the last defender of hope going as far to have a man pick up his dog’s poop barehanded.

His crew is Kate Sacker, a Black trust fund woman who’s likability is second only to her ambition. She dreams of moving from an Assistant United States Attorney to becoming Madame President.

There’s also his right hand man Bryan Connerty, Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force who is passionate about making a change and it costs him financially.

 

As the season goes on we see each team going after what they want and see the “right side” is still driven by ego.

After Rhoades being encouraged by Wendy and Axe being advised by Orrin the two factions come together to discussion settlement.

Wags and Axe are willing to admit wrongdoing and paying a fine of 1.9 billion dollars.

Instead of taking the win and moving on Rhoades and Bryan flaunt their position but as words fly and Team Axe doesn’t rattle at Team Rhoades’ gloats Giamatti’s character exclaims that instead of Axe Capital becoming a mom and pop shop he wants to forbid them from trading securities, not even of their own money.

This being a ludicrous proposition Axe tears up the check and storms out.

 

I was frustrated with Rhoades time and time again because he just wouldn’t get out of his own way.

Because of his obsession with beating Axe he breaks his wife’s trust by stealing her confidential client notes, goes to a sex club without his wife’s permission and acts as if he’s still heading up the case even though he recused himself.

 

I will admit Axe wasn’t much better.

Though he didn’t blatantly lie to his wife about his whereabouts and plans he is heartless in business.

When faced with the possibility of an unfavorable piece being written about him he gives a reporter a scoop on a fellow colleagues misdealing.

He cuts off his close friend and leaves him to fend for himself at the hotel when the others fly back home from the Metallica trip.

After finding out his employee Donnie he promises $40M to his family for his help to deceive an ongoing investigate against him. And after sending Donnie to a cancer specialist he rejects the option of enrolling him in an experimental treatment that could’ve possibly given him 3-4 more months to live.

This was too much of a risk because that would give Donnie the option to testify against Axe.

 

All in all this is a phenomenal show and i’m looking forward to saving and subscribing to the Showtime app to continue my journey watching this show.

 

Favorite moments:

The reveal of Wendy as the dominatrix

The open communication shown between both married couples

Axe and Dollar Bill’s fake fight

Kate and Bryan’s chemistry

Wendy and Axe’s confrontation

Axe and Rhoades stand off in the finale

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s