A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Billions explores weighty adult themes of power, success, and greed in a high-stakes world that breeds arguments and threats, with strong language (including liberal use of the word "f--k") and frank sexuality that includes brief shots of bare breasts and full-frontal nudity. (There's also a female character whose affinity for S&M/bondage finds her urinating on her husband's chest while wearing high-heeled boots.) Characters drink socially, smoke cigarettes, and use popular brands, too, with some visible logos.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
U.S. district attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) is convinced that hedge-fund giant Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Damian Lewis) is using insider trading to pad his profits -- and his image as a benevolent billionaire. But since Rhoades will only prosecute a case he can win, he needs airtight evidence to bring Axelrod to court. Add the fact that Rhoades' well-paid wife, Wendy (Maggie Siff), is one of his adversary's most trusted advisors thanks to her job as Axelrod's in-house performance coach, and literally BILLIONS are at stake. But as these two hulking male egos go to war, only one can win.
Is it any good?
Billions is a drama with big aims and characters so complex that it almost dares you to figure them out. But the show’s cheaply manufactured metaphors don't exactly inspire you to give it a go. Sometimes they're so absurdly obvious that they're borderline stupid, such as when a dog getting neutered inspires its owner to get cocky and buy a multimillion-dollar beach house. And the ones involving dogs and urination, meant to explain the complexities of power and submission? Well, they're just plain gross. So much for subtlety.
Thankfully, Billions also has its fair share of assets, among them a pair of dueling leads with real acting chops and Siff's intriguing portrayal of Rhoades' equally complicated wife. It also bears the stamp of journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, who helped develop the series after his bestselling book about the financial crisis, Too Big to Fail, became an HBO movie featuring Giamatti (in a SAG Award-winning performance) as Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Billions' major themes of power, wealth, and greed and why they so often sow seeds of conflict. Can you have money and influence without selfishness and greed, or do they always go hand in hand? Does every action and decision truly have a consequence, or is it possible to buy and steal your way out?
What's the public perception of the super rich? Do we expect the world's wealthiest citizens to help others because they already have more than they need? Do we expect a certain level of corruption from those who appear to have beaten the system?
How do Billions' main characters measure up as role models, and who are the heroes and villains? Which side do you find yourself rooting for, and why?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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