One of Showtime’s newest television series has already seriously impressed the network. Billions, which only had its official premiere on January 17, has already received a second season pickup from Showtime.
Billions follows the tug of war between U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and New York hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis). Rhoades has set his sights on Wall Street misdeeds, and looks to pin any crime he can on Axelrod, who has definitely used his cunning to gain access to information in ways that many would consider dubious, but has, as yet, not been obviously involved in any criminal activities.
Rhoades loves his reputation as a crusader of public justice, and believes that taking down Axelrod, and showing the world how he’s abused his power, will keep him on the path demanded by those who seek justice. Axelrod, on the other hand, is only interested in money and the power it brings. The two men are actually quite similar, though, in that each will use questionable means to secure what (or who) they feel is necessary to get what they want. And, what they want right now, is to successfully devour each other in this battle of wills.
Complicating matters even further is Rhoades’ wife, Wendy (Maggie Siff). Mrs. Rhoades is loyal to her husband, but she’s also loyal to her boss, who just happens to be Axelrod. Her internal conflict, and actual professional conflict of interest, becomes an obvious sticking point in the fight between two strong men who are willing to put the squeeze on anyone to come out on top.
It’s really no surprise that the financial industry drama has garnered a second season from Showtime so early in its run. Billions had the biggest ever premiere week for a network original series, with 6.5 million viewers. Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti and Emmy and Golden Globe winner Damian Lewis were certainly big draws for the critically praised show.
Paul Giamatti has been a major player since his star making turn in Sideways. He’s been nominated for a whopping 54 awards either as a solo performer or member of a nominated cast. His TV and film career includes entries as varied as Cinderella Man (for which he received his Oscar nod), 12 Years A Slave, Rock of Ages, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the TV mini-series John Adams (which won him an Emmy award). He recently appeared in disaster movie San Andreas and the bio-pic Straight Outta Compton.
Damian Lewis made his most recognizable appearance on Showtime’s Homeland from 2011-2014 as former patriot turned terrorist traitor Nicholas Brody. The difficult character won Lewis raves for his finely tuned performance as a man changed by his captivity at the hands of terrorists during the war. Lewis was nominated for an impressive 18 awards just for his time on the show; he won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his performance. He also won acclaim for his work in the 2001 mini-series Band of Brothers, and recent Masterpiece Theater offering Wolf Hall.
Well, it’s no doubt that Billions has an intriguing premise and a wonderful set of actors to help enliven the storytelling every week. Now, fans of the show will get to see them battle it out even more than they expected.