There’s been a lot of movies and television shows focused on the worst of Wall Street lately, including the upcoming ABC miniseries MADOFF and the newly released film THE BIG SHORT. And in some respects, the new Showtime series BILLIONS focuses on the same themes, including greed and skirting the law to earn vast sums of money. But BILLIONS also gives an interesting look into the individual players in this enormous system.
We open the premiere of BILLIONS with an S&M scene — one involving U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhodes as the one who is being dominated. Which is very different from his professional life where he is always in control and doesn’t like prostrating himself before anyone else. Someone from the SEC approaches him with a suspect insider trading pattern that links back to Bobby “Axe” Axelrod. But Chuck knows he has to tread lightly with this one because Axe is considered a “man of the people” — someone who came from nothing to build an enormous and profitable hedge fund and never forgets his old friends. He very much presents himself as a family man and a charitable guy (although, there’s definitely something that happened around the time of 9/11 that could cast Axe in an unfavorable light). Chuck’s wife — Wendy Rhodes — is also the performance coach at Axe Capital and is a close friend of Bobby’s, which complicates the situation.
During a press conference to announce some recent busts and convictions, a financial journalist accuses Chuck of refusing to go after Bobby because of a conflict in his own house, which goads Chuck into proceeding. After all, the last thing he wants is an accusation that he’s showing anyone preferential treatment — and that goes for his wealthy businessman father as well (a point that keeps coming up throughout the season).
Meanwhile, Axe proves himself intelligent, speaking to his backroom contacts to protect himself at every turn when he gets word he’s being targeted for an investigation. And it doesn’t hurt that his wife, Lara, is a tough woman who is prepared to threaten and manipulate people in order to secure the family’s reputation.
Don’t miss the series premiere of BILLIONS on January 17 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.