So it’s been a while since I’ve written about Showtime’s Billions. Mainly because the show is just awesome and largely unbiased.
Yes, you’ve got the portrayal of Wall Street-types as something akin to 21st Century Robber Barons. But I get that, if you’re trying to make a television show fun to watch. It’s a lot more entertaining to watch traders and investors scream obscenities at each other and celebrate their financial conquests over strippers and sushi than it is to watch a guy spend eight hours poring over charts of orange crop yields, make a phone call, and then take the Metro North back to Greenwich at night.
I understand all that. But here’s what I don’t get, and it centers on what they’re doing with Paul Giamatti’s character, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Hardworking guy, aggressive, obsessed with justice and nailing those who benefit from insider trading.
He’s also a complete sexual freak.
As seen in this clip, from this week’s episode titled ‘The Good Life,’ where Giamatti’s character calls his wife (who doubles as his at-home Dominatrix) and tells her he’s overcome by his need to get his Dominatrix jollies while in Iowa investigating insider trading:
**WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE**
Wendy: Hi, baby. Chuck?
Chuck: I'm outside a club again. I don't know how I ended up here.
Wendy: I'm listening.
Chuck: I feel so out of control, Wendy.
Wendy: You wanna go inside?
Chuck: Oh, f*ck, yes.
Wendy: Me, too. Take me with you.
Chuck: Okay. Hold on, okay? You with me?
Wendy: What do you see?
Chuck: There's a...woman.
Wendy: Is she hot?
Chuck: Yeah. And the man is... Pathetic. He's completely in her power.
Wendy: F*cking worm.
Wendy: Get on your hands and knees.
Chuck: Oh, the floor is so—
Wendy: On your f*cking knees now.
Chuck: Okay. Sh*t. It's a hard floor.
Wendy: Good. I'm gonna leave you there for a while.
Chuck: Ohh. All these sharp heels.
Wendy: Are you touching yourself?
Chuck: May I?
Wendy: No. Not until I give you permission.
Okay, to each his own. That looks really painful and weird to me. But okay. Here’s the question though: how does this Dominatrix side-narrative advance the story line at all?
It really hasn’t factored into the show at all. So, the U.S. Attorney has a thing for domination by women. Okay. What does that have to do with busting a billionaire for insider trading?
Perhaps, they’re trying to make him a more entertaining character, similar to the naked sushi thing they’re doing with the traders. Great, but isn’t there a middle ground between strippers and whips and chains?
What happened to being a chain smoker with an unhealthy gambling addiction? The way this show is structured, Giamatti’s kinky sideshow narrative looks more like an excuse to work in depravity than it does introducing an audience to a character.
All that being said, Billions is really, really good.