Showtime’s newest series, Billions, has received mixed reviews since its premiere earlier this month. The Wall Street Journal called the show “delicious trash” that’s “designed to irritate,” while our own Danger Guerrero deemed it “pretty good,” while noting that it “needs to clarify its purpose a bit, and figure out exactly what it wants to be.” Guerrero also noted that “if you ever wanted to see a dominatrix pee on Paul Giamatti, Billions is the show for you.” Apparently, millions (not billions, though) of Americans want nothing more than to see a dominatrix pee on Paul Giamatti: The premiere marked Showtime’s highest-rated ever, with 6.5 million viewers. As such — and only two episodes in — Showtime has gone ahead and green-lit a second season, according to Vulture.
This is something of a rare move; most TV shows have to prove their worth both critically and commercially — and with more than two hours of content — before being bestowed with the honor of a second season. But when has Showtime played by the rules? Showtime is HBO’s messed-up younger sibling, the one who never went to college and is still on the family payroll but is still, somehow, everybody’s favorite. Showtime’s the maverick network that brought you Californication, Homeland, The Affair, Shameless, and a show called Dave’s Old Porn that I’ve never seen but that sounds maverick-y. Showtime will renew a show based entirely on the performance of its first two episodes and Showtime doesn’t care that you think this is a little weird. Showtime is too busy sleeping with your wife to care.
Moreover, Showtime must know that Billions‘ mass appeal isn’t surprising, nor is it likely to dim with time. Billions is a show about rich white guys played by Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. Everybody loves rich white guys! Rich white guys, poor white guys, white women who are dating middle-class white guys, plus men and women of every other race in America who have been downtrodden by rich white guys for centuries. The appeal is obvious and impenetrable. The investment in Billions is a good one in that rich white guys aren’t likely to become less popular, ever. Billions could go on for billions of years, and everyone would rejoice, knowing they’d forever be up to date on the exploits of rich white guys and they’d never be lonely again. Thank you, Showtime. Thank you for this millenia-spanning gift.