Monday, June 17, 2024

Review: “Billions,” the Best and Most Underrated Show on TV, Comes to a Satisfying End After 7 Seasons


“Billions” is over. The series finale dropped at midnight on the Showtime app. It will run on Sunday for one last night.

“Billions” was always the best written and acted show on TV. Long before “Succession,” the drama wittily revolved around greed and the approval seeking of a son with his father. But Showtime did nothing for it despite several Emmy worthy performances every year.

In the last couple of years, “Billions” survived the pandemic, and also the write out of a main character — Bobby Axelrod — when actor Damian Lewis’s actress wife Helen McRory fought a brave battle with cancer. Lewis went back to the UK and Bobby was written out.

This season more than any other “Billions” became a kind of meta riff on itself. In previous years. characters made arcane references to cultural totems, quoting movies, citing strange historical events that would send the viewer to Google search mid- sentence. But this season, everyone was doing it, and it could have been a drinking game.

But this weekend’s finale is different. The artifice is gone as Brian Koppelman and David Levien wrap up a bravura series. All the loose ends are tied up very satisfyingly. The show has come full circle. Some people move on.; Some return to their old patterns with renewed vigor. The door is left open for “Trillions” or “Zillions” or whatever Paramount has in mind.

It’s funny that Paramount-Showtime would even want a continuation. In the seven seasons, they produced nary an Emmy nomination for Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff, or David Costabile. I once asked a Showtime chief why this was, and he replied that maybe no one at the network liked someone involved with the show. I was speechless.

Anyway. the finale ends on the right note as everyone gets what they want. I was thrilled to see a whole scene play out at Joe Junior’s coffee shop on Third Avenue — even though the real Joe Junior’s on Sixth Avenue is gone. “Billions” was always as fun as “Mad Men,” moving around to various watering holes in town (even the Corner Bistro is shown in the finale).

Maybe “Billions” will have a second life, like “Suits.” I sure hope so. I will miss these people a lot, especially Taylor, played by Asia Kate Dixon. I remember when a casting call went for a non binary actor to play this part. Dixon soared in the role. I look forward to seeing them turn up in the sequels. And Jeffrey DeMunn– he needs a special SAG Award for MVP in a drama.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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