The TV series industry benefits from the financial drama boom


“It’s an interesting transition point [but] That said, I think there will always be a certain rock and roll element to the guy with the money and the fast car and I think that’s more prevalent here [in the United States].”

Devilsbased on the best-selling novel by Italian trader Guido Maria Brera, uses the 2008 financial crisis as its backdrop and revolves around the relationship between the bank’s ruthless trading chief, Massimo Ruggero, (Alessandro Borghi) and his mentor, the bank’s chief executive, Dominic Morgan (Patrick Dempsey).

Nick Hurran, who produces Devils, was stimulated by a rage born from reading Brera’s novel, he says. The novel brings together a seemingly unrelated set of events, including the Strauss-Khan scandal, which involved French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Libyan civil war, and the most recent European debt crisis.

Patrick Dempsey in Devils.Credit:NBC Universal

“I’ve spent the last few years on really big sci-fi projects, so I really wanted to do something that had a human story. I read Guido’s novel and it pissed me off. “, says Hurran. “But then it inspired me to tell how people are affected by a global financial system that is broken and still impacting lives around the world.”

There is also a moral ambivalence in anti-heroes like Bobby Axelrod, who is presented as both an uncharitably ruthless character but at the same time generous when it comes to charitable causes. This makes them both complex and attractive, says Lewis.

“I think a dramatic device used here is that if you give people enough needs, wants, wants, viewers appreciate that, viewers appreciate that embodied in the main characters and we like to watch the desperation, the compromise and the ambiguity that spews into their lives,” Lewis says. “That’s where the dramatic stakes lie. The fact that crooks do shy things doesn’t make you like them any less, weirdly, in a dramatic context.”

But when it comes to Axelrod’s real-world counterparts — the humanitarian billionaire with an insatiable appetite for profit but deep pockets for a good cause — “there are ways they do good deeds, and there are ways in which they perform evil deeds,” Lewis says.

New York attorney Preet Bharara, whose lawsuit inspired Billions.

New York attorney Preet Bharara, whose lawsuit inspired Billions.Credit:PA

“We talk a lot about having the edge on this show [and] advantage is clearly an understatement when we talk about having the advantage,” adds Lewis. “The guys I met all talked about being risk averse, which means you have enough information to mitigate all the risk before you make your bet. If he’s attractive at the same time he’s reprehensible, I think it’s down to the talent of these guys.”

Lewis believes the genre has flourished due to the heightened storytelling it uses, but also the moral ambiguity of key characters. Instead of assuming right or wrong, the narration leaves the audience in limbo.

“It’s not stylized but it’s accented, and everyone talks in these long sentences,” Lewis says. “It’s a bit like Hamlet. They tend to talk in soliloquies, they sort of wonder [whether they will take a particular action] and they share it with someone else. There is a Shakespearean quality to the way they communicate.

Industry follows the life of a group of young investment bankers.

Industry follows the life of a group of young investment bankers.

“Even though the show is on moral gray ground, good people do bad things and bad people do good things, but at the same time you get the sense that there’s good and bad, and that they exist as entities on their own, and these guys will kind of negotiate with each other.”

Another key element, according to Billions producer Brian Koppelman, is the audience’s take on the intersection of class, power and privilege.

“We can all understand, even excuse, many crimes committed by people in desperate places,” Koppelman said. “But for people who have privilege and the world at their fingertips, and by that I mean even the average white-collar criminal, they may not be wealthy in advance, but they probably live in a place where they’re not in danger. That’s the kind of societal reason, socially important. The other reason is to look at the kings who need even more. That’s why we’re fascinated to tell the story .

Billions and Black Monday are streaming on Stan. Devils streams on Binge and Foxtel on Demand starting January 19. Industry airs on Fox Showcase and streams on Binge and Foxtel on Demand starting February 1. Stan belongs to Nine, who also owns this masthead.


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