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Showtime hasn’t had a big hit since its terrorism thriller Homeland, and the CBS-owned cable network is trying to get its next one by swapping out explosive vests for tailored suits. Starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti, who won Emmy awards for Homeland and John Adams respectively, Billions just released its first full-length trailer.
Using the successful Damian Lewis cat-and-mouse formula that made Homeland so popular, Billions swaps out Claire Danes for Paul Giamatti, who plays Chuck Rhoades, U.S. Attorney trying to bring down Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, hedge fund giant with dodgy trading practices, who bears some resemblance to Steven Cohen, who The Wall Street Journal called "The Hedge Fund King" in 2006 who was among the targets of a massive insider trading investigation and whose company, SAC Capital Advisors, ended up paying a $1.2 billion fine.
Executive produced by Andrew Ross Sorkin, the New York Times financial columnist who wrote Too Big to Fail, the series appears to trade on the post-crash distrust of Wall Street that led to successes of films like The Wolf of Wall Street and Margin Call.
The trailer has all the juicy bits we’ve come to expect from a finance entertainment, with greed-is-good lines like, “When did it become a crime to succeed in this country?!” and dubious justifications like “Everybody has access to the information, we just know how to analyze it better.” Billions gives Giamatti some choice ones, too, like “a good matador doesn’t kill a fresh bull. You wait til he’s been stuck a few times.”
Whether Billions will be a realistic portrayal of unscrupulous practices of Wall Street that invites further public calls for reform or a glorification of a win-at-all-costs attitude remains to be seen—at 10 p.m. on Sunday, January 17.