OF THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT… BILLIONS
WHY SKY ATLANTIC’S LATEST IMPORT MIGHT BECOME YOUR NEW APPOINTMENT TV
Although it unfolds in surprising ways across its 12 episodes, Billions essentially sketches the conflict between Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), a self-made hedge fund billionaire, and Chuck Roades (Paul Giamatti), a United States attorney looking to bring him down. “We think of billionaires as nation states, and United States attorneys as kings,” says show co-creator Brian Koppelman. “The show really is about each guy trying to keep his kingdom in order while preparing to do battle with the other,” adds fellow showrunner, David Levien. want to do a thing where it was the bad rich guy and the noble prosecutor. We were interested in playing with people’s rooting interest.”
Although the show takes place now, the financial crash of 2008 looms large. “It’s really about how those events affected these people psychologically,” says Koppelman. “You’re watching the psychology unfold of the kind of people who were responsible for that stuff.”
Influences include Margin Call and Glengarry Glen Ross, as well as seminal TV shows like The Sopranos and Mad Men. But the showrunners have tried to create something unique. “It didn’t feel like it was going to fit a template of something we’d seen before,” says Levien.