Dromoscopia // BILLIONS

curated by Vera Viselli

B. Koppelman, D. Levien, A. R. Sorkin
USA, 2016

To those who believed that the Rock series of the year was Vinyl, watch out, it’s an error. It’s Billions, the series aired on Showtime and created by Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin – the journalist, this last one, who wrote the best seller Too big to fail, where he chronicled the events of the 2008 financial crisis (that, unfortunately, is still going on in Europe), through 500 hours interviews, confidential documents, emails and audio recordings8. In the book, set in 2008 New York, Jamie Dimon, from the JP Morgan (the third USA bank), together with a group of twelve persons, tries to avoid the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the global domino effect that would have followed – how it’s actually gone is history nowadays. From this point, Billions analyzes the fight between the justice (#TeamChuck, after Chuck Rhoades, New York district attorney, performed by the always brilliant Paul Giamatti) and the business, the #TeamAxe, led by Bobby ‘Axe’ Axelrod (Damian Lewis) – you do not miss, of course, the assonance of his surname with Axl Rose – who uses the hedge funds and moves through the Stock Exchange in a barely legal way. If Chuck is a man of the utmost integrity (at the beginning at least), Axe knows he’s ethically compromised – his financial luck is spotted by the 9/11 blood – but for this reason he’s the most existentially free in that kind of background. The cat-mouse hunt between him and Rhoades is his way to provoke the public morality, he reaches everything he wants to. This details reminds – in a strong way – a typical and deep American desire: to be rich means to get at the top of manhood. A manhood which finds its eroticism top not in the erotic games Rhoades can’t do without (dominant figure of justice, he needs to get himself dominated and subjugated in private life) but in the corruption and in the chance to exercise it.

Here is, then, the series real meaning: it’s not much about the interactions between politic, power and justice but rather to what a person really wishes. Axe, as revealed by one of his employee, “he does everything that he wants. When you’re at his level, you’re more similar to a Nation-State than to a person“. Bobby, whatever he does, is a being half divine and half rock star (talking of it, unbeatable the Metallica guest appearance in one of the first season episodes). And, as written on New York Times “when Americans love the player, turn a blind eye on the play“. A bit like what’s happened with O.J. Simpson.

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