Billions
GenreDrama
Created by
Starring
ComposerEskmo
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes84 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Brian Koppelman
  • David Levien
  • Christian Soriano
  • Andrew Ross Sorkin
  • Neil Burger
Production locationNew York City
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time54–60 minutes
Production companies
  • Best Available!
  • TBTF Productions Inc. (seasons 1 & 2)
Original release
NetworkShowtime
ReleaseJanuary 17, 2016 (2016-01-17) –
October 29, 2023 (2023-10-29)

Billions is an American drama television series created by Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and Andrew Ross Sorkin. The series premiered on January 17, 2016, on Showtime, and its seventh and final season premiered on August 13, 2023.[1][2]

Set primarily in New York and Connecticut, the series depicts hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) as he accumulates wealth and power in the world of high finance.[3][4] Axelrod's aggressive tactics frequently garner the attention of United States Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti). Rhoades is based on Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan from 2009 to 2017, and the series was inspired by real-life federal prosecutions of financial crime.[5][6] Bharara's 2013 prosecution of hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen of S.A.C. Capital Advisors loosely influenced the first season, while Salomon Brothers' 1991 manipulation of U.S. Treasury bonds inspired the second.[7] Series subplots feature the psychiatrist turned performance coach Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), market analyst Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon), and Axelrod's right-hand man Mike "Wags" Wagner (David Costabile).

As the first American TV series to have a non-binary character (Taylor Mason),[8][9] it has been nominated multiple times for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series for its representation of the LGBTQ community.

Plot

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Chuck Roades (Giamatti) goes after hedge fund manager and popular philanthropist Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Lewis). A collision course, with each using all of their considerable smarts and influence to outmaneuver the other, looms.

Cast

Actor Character Season
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Paul Giamatti Charles "Chuck" Rhoades, Jr. Main
Damian Lewis Robert "Bobby" Axelrod Main Does not appear Main
Maggie Siff Wendy Rhoades Main
Malin Åkerman Lara Axelrod Main Guest Does not appear
Toby Leonard Moore Bryan Connerty Main Guest Does not appear Guest
David Costabile Mike "Wags" Wagner Main
Condola Rashād Kate Sacker Main
Asia Kate Dillon Taylor Amber Mason Does not appear Recurring Main
Jeffrey DeMunn Charles Rhoades, Sr. Recurring Main
Kelly AuCoin "Dollar" Bill Stearn Recurring Main Recurring Main
Corey Stoll Michael Thomas Aquinas Prince Does not appear Recurring Main
Daniel Breaker Scooter Dunbar Does not appear Recurring Main
Sakina Jaffrey Daevisha "Dave" Mahar Does not appear Main
Toney Goins Phillip Charyn Does not appear Recurring Main

Main

Recurring

Episodes

Main article: List of Billions episodes

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)
5127May 3, 2020 (2020-05-03)June 14, 2020 (2020-06-14)
5September 5, 2021 (2021-09-05)October 3, 2021 (2021-10-03)
612January 23, 2022 (2022-01-23)April 10, 2022 (2022-04-10)
712August 13, 2023 (2023-08-13)October 29, 2023 (2023-10-29)

Production

Development

The series was ordered by Showtime in March 2015,[22] and the first season premiered January 17, 2016.[23] On January 26, 2016, the series was renewed for a second season,[24] which premiered on February 19, 2017.[25] Showtime confirmed in April 2017 that Asia Kate Dillon, who is non-binary, would be a series regular in the third season.[9] Billions is considered to be the first American TV series to have a non-binary character.[8]

Preet Bharara, the inspiration for U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhodes who was portrayed by Paul Giamatti, was somewhat critical of Giamatti's casting – jokingly referring to the Italian American actor as "noted Indian American actor Paul Giamatti".[26]

On May 8, 2019, the series was renewed for a fifth season by Showtime,[27] which premiered on May 3, 2020.[28] On October 1, 2020, Showtime renewed the series for a sixth season and Corey Stoll was promoted to series regular.[29][30][31] On February 15, 2022, Showtime renewed the series for a seventh and final season[1][32]

Broadcast

The first episode was made available on January 1, 2016, via video on demand services in the U.S. and via CraveTV in Canada.[33][34] 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.[35]

Depiction of BDSM

The show captured the attention of the BDSM community, as it features numerous depictions of BDSM activity, and the two main characters of Charles "Chuck" Rhoades, Jr and his wife Wendy Rhoades engage in BDSM scenes numerous times in the early seasons of the show. In addition, season 4 of the show depicts the character of Chuck Rhoades coming out as a practitioner of BDSM in a public political speech. The show's producers retained the services of noted BDSM lifestyle expert Olivia Troy as a consultant to help ensure the activities are portrayed both accurately and safely.[36]

Reception

Critical response

Critical response of Billions
SeasonRotten TomatoesMetacritic
178% (135 reviews)[37]69 (37 reviews)[38]
289% (98 reviews)[39]67 (6 reviews)[40]
393% (108 reviews)[41]77 (5 reviews)[42]
497% (114 reviews)[43]87 (4 reviews)[44]
591% (11 reviews)[45]73 (6 reviews)[46]
6100% (5 reviews)[47]tbd (2 reviews)[48]
760% (5 reviews)[49]62 (4 reviews)[50]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an overall approval rating of 86%, with a rating of 78% for season 1, 89% for season 2, 93% for season 3, 97% for season 4, 91% for season 5, 100% for season 6, and 60% for season 7.[51] 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."[37] 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."[39] 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."[41] 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."[43]

On Metacritic, the show has an overall score of 71. The first season has a weighted average score of 69 out of 100, based on reviews from 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews",[38] while the second season has a score of 67 out of 100, based on reviews from 6 critics, also indicating "generally favorable reviews".[40] Praise for the series has steadily grown over time—also on Metacritic, its third season scored a 77 out of 100, while its fourth holds a score of 87 out 100 based on reviews from 4 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[42][44] The show's coverage of the hedge fund industry has been widely recognized as realistic.[3][4]

In 2017, after introducing Taylor Mason (played by Asia Kate Dillon) in season 2,[52] Billions became the first American TV series to have a non-binary character and actor.[53][54] The series has received positive comments because of its representation of non-binary gender,[55] with praise for its depiction of inclusion of gender-neutral singular they pronouns in the workplace.

Accolades

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
2017
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film Nominated [56]
Artios Awards Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Television Pilot and First Season – Drama
Allison Estrin
Avy Kaufman
Melissa Moss
Nominated [57]
Golden Nymph Awards Outstanding Drama Series
Billions
Nominated [58]
2018
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Drama Series Nominated [59]
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series
Billions
Nominated [60]
2019
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series
Billions
Nominated [61]
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Drama / Genre Series Nominated [62]
Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series
Maggie Siff
Nominated
2020
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series
Billions
Nominated [63]
2021
Satellite Awards Best Television Series – Drama
Billions
Nominated [64]
Best Actor in a Drama / Genre Series
Damian Lewis
Nominated
Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series
Maggie Siff
Nominated
2023
Satellite Awards Best Television Series – Drama
Billions
Won [65]

Lawsuits

Billions has faced several lawsuits regarding both copyright infringement and defamation.

The first, brought by Denise Shull and the ReThink group in 2019 (Shull v Sorkin), alleged (among other things) that Billions ripped off Shull's book and based character "Wendy Rhoades" on her likeness.[66] She also argues that Billions engaged her as a consultant on the show, but did not compensate or credit her for her time,[67] as Shull claims is illustrated in a recently released video.[68] The case was dismissed and appealed.[69] In July, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court's decision to dismiss the suit, saying that Shull's book and the show are not substantially similar.[70]

The second, brought by the Cayuga Nation in 2020,[71] argued that Billions defamed both the nation and its federal representative.[72] In the show, the nation is depicted engaging in acts such as the illegal operation of a casino business, blackmail, and bribery. One of the Cayuga characters featured on the show had the same last name and occupation as a real-life member.[73] The case was dismissed, but the Cayuga Nation is considering its options regarding appeals.[72]

See also

References

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