Showtime’s Brainwashing

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Photo: Mike Gifford/Flckr See: tinyurl.com/hkg7pjr

I already watched the first two seasons of a Showtime series titled “Billions.” It’s about a fictitious hedge-fund company, Axe Capital headed by a ruthless CEO named Bobby Axelrod. The whole series revolved around the head-to-head conflict between Axelrod and the equally ruthless prosecutor Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti).

It was interesting because the prosecutor’s wife was also the in-house shrink for Axe Capital, tuning up the employees to deliver their maximum output. Suddenly, during the second season, an intern arrives at the firm, who is of indeterminate gender. She or he (as the case may be) quickly displays an unmatched talent for the kind of work they do at Axe. The Wall Street Journal describes it this way:

“‘Billions,’ a Showtime series set in the world of high finance, is about the flow of power and money. It is driven by the egos of, for the most part, male characters who spit lines such as ‘What’s the point of having f— you money if you never say f— you?’”

Now, to me, that’s what made the show worth watching, plus the rivalry between Bobby Axelrod and the prosecutor, each of whom would do almost anything to the other in order to dominate in that rivalry. Suddenly, as the WSJ puts it:

“The chemistry of this testosterone-laden setup was altered with the introduction of a reserved, androgynous character named Taylor Mason. In the second season, this computational savant came in as an intern to … Axe Capital, quickly becoming the secret weapon in its trading strategies.”

“At the start of season 3, [which began] on Sunday, Taylor is serving as the firm’s chief investment officer, standing in for cutthroat boss Bobby Axelrod, … who has been sidelined after a sting by prosecutor Chuck Rhoades.”

To paraphrase an iconic line from the classic movie, “Cool Hand Luke”: What we have here is a failure to give a damn about the viewers. What made “Billions” worth watching is being supplanted by watching a character who is uncertain of his or her sex prove to be oh-so-much smarter than all the men in the firm—who know exactly what gender they are.

Oddly enough, the character is played by a person who is also of uncertain gender. The actor/tress, Asia Kate Dillon, like the character, “identifies as gender nonbinary [whatever that is] rather than as a man or woman, going by the pronoun ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she.’ In ‘Billions,’ the traders accept Taylor without many probing questions because of the character’s brilliance.”

Ah: therein lies the lofty motive of turning a successful series into a bore: To teach us all to be able to do the same thing, accept people of murky sex on their merits. If it could work in the hedge-fund world, why not in the military, or in the classroom?

This fictional scenario reveals zero respect for the intellect of viewers because, exactly WHY should Taylor be brilliant, and not a person of ordinary intelligence, like everyone else at Axe Capital?

This is of a kind with storylines where the only Muslim on a plane defeats the terrorist hijackers.

The real question is, why should I continue to watch this series, now that it’s clear that its main purpose is to brainwash the viewers?