How the Show Made NYC More Than Just a Backdrop
The Showtime series “Billions” concluded its seven-season run, leaving a lasting impression of New York City as not just a setting but a central character. Damian Lewis portrayed Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, a multibillionaire hedge fund manager based in Manhattan.
Over the years, numerous television shows have used New York City as their backdrop, including “Law & Order,” “Sex and the City,” and “Succession.” However, “Billions” stands out for its deep-rooted connection to the city. From the opening credits featuring an aerial view of Lower Manhattan, it’s evident that the city is more than just a setting; it’s a star in its own right.
The creators of the show, Brian Koppelman and David Levien, intentionally designed it that way. They wanted the city to be as significant as the characters in the series. To achieve this, they focused on real locations within the city, such as restaurants, streets, and neighborhoods.
The series, which debuted in 2016, highlighted various landmarks of New York City, including the Guggenheim Museum, Central Park, the Meatpacking District, and the New York Stock Exchange. It also kept up with the city’s evolving food culture. The creators aimed to capture the essence of the city, from high-end restaurants like Rao’s in Harlem and the Grand Central Oyster Bar to the bustling food truck scene and local dive bars.
Koppelman and Levien also made it a point to showcase the city’s diverse neighborhoods like Chinatown and Astoria, Queens. They wanted to depict the city as a multifaceted place where moving just a few blocks can feel like entering a different world.
The show didn’t just focus on the glamorous aspects of New York City; it also aimed to portray the lives of working people and those who are struggling. The relentless pursuit of power and success by the characters in the series mirrored the city’s own grit and determination.
While the series was packed with drama and moral quandaries, it also captured the unique energy and excitement that make New York City a one-of-a-kind place.
As “Billions” comes to a close, the creators hope that the show will be remembered not just for its complex characters and intricate storylines, but also for how it portrayed the city they adore.
Although New York City will continue to be featured in various other shows and movies, for “Billions” fans, the city will forever be linked with the characters and narratives that unfolded on the screen. According to Levien, New York City is a “tough, complicated, glorious, amazing place,” and it has left an indelible mark on him.