Eight Reasons You Should Be Watching Billions
by Brian DeBrosse | Over, Over Two Shot | March 28, 2018
Billions, the Showtime series starring Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis, just came back for a third season on Sunday. If you’ve never heard of the show, it centers around Chuck Rhoades, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and his quest to take down Bobby Axelrod, a possibly corrupt hedge fund manager. The show helped the premium cable service snag its best debut ever back in 2016 when it premiered, and while the ratings have been solid, it’s safe to say the show has never driven the conversation in the way shows like Big Little Lies or Westworld have in the past.
And look, I get it, okay? It’s on Showtime, not HBO. Showtime’s track record lately has been… shaky at best, and they’re not known for sticking the landing. But they have given us some incredible starts to series. The first five seasons of Dexter, the first three of Homeland and Weeds… I won’t lie to you; sooner or later, this show may jump the Showtime shark and the main characters might end up prematurely dead or living in seclusion as lumberjacks. But as for right now, Billions is easily one of the best shows on television.
Here are the eight reasons you should be watching Billions:
(Be warned – much like Billions, this article contains some adult content. Also, mild spoilers for the first two seasons of the show.)
1. The show has BALLS
The very first scene of the very first episode of the show features Paul Giamatti tied up BDSM-style, shirtless and lying on the floor, as an unidentified dominatrix stands over him, burns him with a cigarette, then squats and urinates on him. What other show has the big brass testes to start a series off with Miles from Sideways indulging in kinky sexual waterworks debauchery?
2. The aforementioned Giamatti and his GROWL
The best way I’ve heard it described is that Giamatti sighs every line of dialogue in this show. He’s speaking from somewhere deep in his belly, or maybe even from Hell itself. He delivers every line with a ferocity and gravitas that not only keeps your attention but also rattles every window in your house if you have a subwoofer in your audio setup. Beware anyone with a mounted soundbar – Giamatti’s bass delivery may shake your Sonos off the wall.
3. Damian Lewis chews the scenery
Take Eisenberg from The Social Network, Affleck from Boiler Room, sprinkle in a little bit of Leo from Wolf of Wall Street, and cap it off with Alec Baldwin’s speech about the weak leads in Glengarry Glen Ross. THAT’s the best way to describe what Damian Lewis brings to his role of Bobby Axelrod, the billionaire hedge fund manager that doesn’t just flirt with the line – he takes it home and makes sweet, passionate love to it. Lewis commands your full attention every second that he’s on screen with a powerful performance filled with (sometimes) silent, bubbling rage, ungodly confidence, and ruthless intelligence.
4. WAGS, WAGS, WAGS
Look, I could list you a hundred great quotes from perhaps the greatest character on Billions, Mike “Wags” Wagner. I could talk about his passion for sushi and the proper ways to eat it, or his epic choice in ass tattoos. But really, there’s only one scene that perfectly encapsulates the depths of Wags.
5. It’s like watching House of Cards without the guilt of supporting Kevin Spacey
Look, let’s face it – going back and watching the first two seasons of House of Cards (aka the only good ones) now leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. It’s hard not to ignore the giant sexual harassment elephant in the room whenever Spacey is on screen. I can’t even enjoy American Beauty anymore and that contains a meme all-timer (shouts to you, plastic bags everywhere). What’s great about Billions is it has all the things those early seasons of House of Cards had – almost-too-smart dialogue, political intrigue, ridiculously rich and ridiculously good looking people, movie stars and television legends playing B and C roles… all without the existential guilt of trying to figure out if you’re still allowed to enjoy it or not because Kevin Spacey can’t keep his hands to himself.
6. Every character’s seen every movie you’ve ever seen and you bet your ass they’re gonna reference them
In keeping with the topic of almost-too-smart dialogue, the characters of Billions all seem to be movie aficionados and can’t help but sprinkle in relevant movie quotes and references any chance they can get. The Firm, Blade Runner, Brokeback Mountain, The Godfather, Die Hard… If it’s a movie you’ve seen in the last forty years, someone’s gonna drop a line from it, and it’s gonna be incredible. Isn’t that a little over the top, you might ask? Yes. Yes it is. And it’s awesome. Also, there’s never NOT a good time to make a Top Gun reference.
7. This scene
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