Different rules for the rich – things about billionaires that the show Billions nails

Source: Showtime.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the thrill of Stan’s killer TV show, Billions. The show has it all, a glitzy billion-dollar lifestyle with an underbelly of deceit, political subterfuge, and a complex web of nepotism.

But how realistic is it all?

The producers and actors behind Billions put an amazing amount of research into the show. David Levien and Brian Koppelman, the show’s producers, interviewed several billionaires in order to get the truth behind the gilded veil. While Maggie Siff (Wendy Rhoades) did research on Tony Robbins to perfect her no-nonsense performance coaching.

We’ve picked out three things that Billions nails.

1) There are no rules

For those who haven’t seen the season four premier (shame on you) there might be some spoilers coming up.

Episode 1 is all about trading favours. US attorney Chuck Rhoades creates a daisy chain of favours in order to regain a sliver of the power he once had, and if you ask me… this it is as real as it gets.

The idea that there are one set of rules for the wealthy and one set for the rest of us is, of course, hotly contested. We like to think that our justice systems apply to everyone, that our education is created equal and that those in the upper echelons are playing by the rules.

Just think of the recent college admission scandals, where the rich and famous have been able to pay their way through merit-driven entrance exams through criminal means. More than anything, this scandal has shone a spotlight on to the old school (but completely legal) way that elite families would donate a wing to a college in order to place their heir in the halls of their alma mater.

Call me a cynic, but this one rings true.

2) Flashy lifestyles

A lot of millionaires and billionaires like to talk about how they’re extremely frugal, perhaps a little uncomfortable with wealth. From Bill Gates to Richard Branson, these ultra-rich businessmen have been able to keep their spending down when they’ve need to.

But while the amount they’re spending might only be 0.0001% of their net wealth, it is certainly flashier than the average person.

Levien and Koppelman talk about the $2,000 dinner they had to order while hosting billionaires for their interview.

When it was time to order the wine, he said to the maitre d’s, “Just bring me what I always have.” There were four of us, and we drank it, and it was unbelievable — and then of course, if you’re thirsty for even a sip more, he just stuck his finger in the air and a second bottle appeared. And then the cheque came, and it was more than any human could put on any kind of expense account.

3) The end of old money vs new money

The battle of the first few seasons of Billions was new money versus old money. The blood that’s bluer than blue came in the form of Chuck Rhoades and his father’s desperation to hold onto legacy, while the “new blood” came in the form of scheming, dodgy investor Bobby Axelrod. But the end of season three saw these two sides coming together in a twist that shocked fans.

The most recent Forbes rich list reveals the majority of billionaires are considered “self-made” rather than based on inheritance. The old school idea that old money holds all the power has been threatened, not only by newcomers like Axelrod, but also by the unique combination of the two.

If the recent announcement of Kylie Jenner’s achievement of becoming the youngest self-made billionaire is anything to go by the combination of family name and entrepreneurialism is a powerful force.


Billions is now streaming on Stan.

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