I’ve written about Billions before, early on in its run. I mostly thought of it favorably. While Showtime’s Billions has always been focused on characters who are petty, smug and selfish, it’s reached a whole new level of narcissism, disconnect and cruelty. Featuring a cast that includes Damian Lewis just off his Homeland run, the inexplicably magnetic Paul Giamatti, and the most compelling of all, bringing soul and humanity to a show largely devoid of either – Maggie Siff. There have been plenty of other notable performances throughout the series’ run (five years), but it’s fair to say this trio is the heart of the show.
I use the word “heart” liberally. Because the show really doesn’t have any. It’s always been a combination of soulless Wall Street-meets-tech bro, concocted in a simmering cauldron of rivalry between an aggressive, Machiavellian US attorney, Chuck Rhoades (Giamatti) and hedge fund giant, Bobby Axelrod (Lewis). Stuck in between the two is the US attorney’s wife, Wendy (Siff), who also happens to be the in-house performance coach/psychiatrist to the hedge fun and personal friend/advisor/conscience to Axelrod.
The show has always shakily walked the tightrope between gripping and ridiculous. The decline into full-time ridiculous started last season; the show has completely fallen off the tightrope in the latest season. It’s just become stupid.
There was a time when the ridiculousness was tolerable, possibly humorous, but we are living in the exact wrong moment for the self-satisfied, hellbent-on-destroying-others, dick-measuring contest this show has become. Please neuter it.