It’s a good thing my favorite show, “Billions,” was already renewed for a sixth season.
When the fifth season returned on Sunday after an 18 month pandemic break, ratings dropped 73% in total viewers and 80% in the key age demo. Is it possible only 192,000 people tuned in on Sunday?
On June 14, 2020, “Billions” had crested to a high on Showtime of 660,000 viewers. The show was killing it. Everything looked promising. But the pandemic hit, shooting stopped, and everyone went home.
During the time off, we missed Chuck and Axe and Taylor and Wendy and all of them. Paul Giamatti, who plays Chuck, dropped a ton of weight and shaved his beard. When he came back on our screens Sunday, he looked terrific. But bad things happened, too. Damian Lewis’s beloved wife, the talented actress Helen McCrory, died from cancer.
The first two new episodes of season 5 pick up where the season stopped in June 2020. The show is just as deliciously acted, written, and directed as ever. I like to say it’s the thinking man’s “Dallas.” “Billions” is a smart soap opera, and definitely as good as “Succession” on HBO. It just doesn’t have the hype machine.
This blow out ratings drop on Sunday is thanks to Showtime getting no love from CBS/Viacom promotions. “Billions” gets no Emmy nods because this gang does nothing to appeal to voters. Now they’re doing nothing to appeal to viewers. This is terrible. Giamatti and Lewis should each be nominated for Best Actor in a Drama every year. Asia Kate Dillon (who prefers ‘they’) and Maggie Siff should be up for supporting. Same for David Costabile and Jeffrey DeMunn.
You can jump into “Billions” with any episode. If you love good TV, like “The West Wing,” you can always start watching and catch up later. There’s a great twist at the end of Sunday’s episode regarding the kidney donor Chuck has been trying to get for his father. Chuck has turned the world upside down looking for that kidney. You’ll never guess who the donor is. I did a spit take when it was revealed!
Brian Koppelman and David Levien are the killer creators and writers of this show. They deserve better than 192,000 viewers. “Billions” fans, I know you’re out there, come home!
PS Bring back Malin Akerman! And Nina Arianda!