TV REVIEW: Showtime’s ‘Billions’ Brings Cat and Mouse Game to Greed

After seeing many promos for Showtime’s new hopeful hit Billions,” I decided that it was a show that I wanted to watch (because there is just nothing on TV anymore – yeah, right).

Who can turn down Paul Giamatti or Damian Lewis (aka Nicholas Brody of “Homeland”). Lewis plays hedge fund dynamo Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, while Giamatti plays U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades.

Axelrod survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (he wasn’t in the office when it happened), and was able to take the tragedy and build his company, Axe Capital, to the heights of extreme wealth – and I mean extreme.

Rhoades has the reputation and great satisfaction of bringing down guys like “Axe” who commit financial crimes. By the way, his record is 81-0. You know, insider information/trading; guys who break the rules and think they are too big or too smart to get caught. Yes, that’s Bobby Axelrod.

Lewis plays the part to a tee. You kind of like him and you kind of don’t. He is smart, cool, smooth and sexy. Who we DO like is Axe’s in-house shrink and his “performance coach,” Wendy. Oh yeah, she happens to be the U.S. Attorney’s wife, go figure! Wendy, played by Maggie Siff, may be my favorite character on the show. She is beautiful, smart, strong and … a dominatrix to her husband. Whoa. He’s a lucky guy – how did he get her?

Damian Lewis stars in Showtime's "Billions"
Damian Lewis stars in Showtime’s “Billions”

What’s interesting is that Chuck really wants to nail Axelrod. He knows he’s committed financial crimes (don’t they all?), but needs to catch him red-handed or have sufficient evidence to bring him down. It’s a “catch me if you can” plot – which is fun. Bobby definitely has the ego and cunning, and he enjoys the game. Rhoades makes it clear to his assistant(s) that they need real evidence and patience or they will look like fools and will lose the case (that they don’t have yet) – which is unacceptable to Chuck and his office.

Bobby’s wife, Lara (Malin Akerman), makes it clear to the viewers that she’s tough and very protective of her hubby. I want to see Lara vs. Wendy. This may happen. Wendy, despite being Chuck’s wife, is very close to Axe. Hum. I sat watching the scenes with Axe and Wendy, trying to determine if they could have some kind of “romantic” connection in the future. They certainly have the chemistry (much more than Axe and his on-screen wife Lara). It will be interested to see what transpires. They “look” like they would be a great couple.

Slow down, Kim, Wendy is a good gal, married to the U.S. Attorney trying to bring him down. A girl can have fun thinking about romances though, right? And hey, it would certainly cause immense betrayal and problems for the characters, right? That’s exactly what a show wants, isn’t it? It’s good for the ratings.

The second episode showed Axe Capital tricking its employees into believing they were under investigation. Axelrod set the whole thing up and his employees failed miserably, giving up their “tips” on trades and insider information. Way to go, guys! You wonder if this really happens. Are employees of these big financial institutions trained/coached on what to say if investigated? Probably.

Anyway, I think “Billions” appeals to a number of viewers (including me). It’s fun seeing the glamour, riches, and the good guy against bad guy theme. It’s also interesting learning a little about the hedge fund industry. I hope Showtime gives it a chance to get its legs. It seems networks yank shows too quickly, not giving them a chance to succeed.

What did you think of “Billions”? Do you like the story? Who’s your favorite cast member? Does it have a chance to succeed? 






One response to “TV REVIEW: Showtime’s ‘Billions’ Brings Cat and Mouse Game to Greed”

  1. Jane Boursaw Avatar

    I LOVE this show! The casting is perfect – have always been a fan of both Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Oh, that first scene made me wonder if I was watching “Fifty Shades of Grey.” 🙂

    Yeah, I hope Showtime gives it time to grow and doesn’t yank it right off the bat.

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