Been watching the second season of Billions. Honestly, I don’t think this show is nearly as great as so many others do. But it’s good enough entertainment, as things go. In some ways it’s typical of narrative these days. It aspires to harsh realism. There’s a good question, along the lines of Jordan Peterson’s arguments, that maybe the role of narrative should be aspirational. Humans, in reality, are all flawed and do bad (occasionally terrible) things, but the point of our stories is not to dwell on what we all know, but to aim for something higher: a more profound vision of how we might live.
I don’t know if this really would be better in some way, but for quite a while now, at least since the 70s, the growing tendency has been to forgo aspirational narratives in lieu of this kind of harsh realism. As a consequence, we get these stories in which everyone is kind of a creep. So, yes, we have the business man and corporation as villian and criminal. At the same time, though, the state actor, the prosecutor’s office, turns out to be just as corrupt. So, in one sense, we might say that there is no political agenda being pushed here. Unless, of course, you think promoting this kind of cynicism and nihillism is in fact its own form of political agenda. It is the postmodern view of everything being about power.
Ironically, in light of my earlier mention of Peterson, the one character in the second season who seems as though maybe we are suppose to regard as noble, is the transgender one: a woman who wants to be treated as a man. She announces herself to the audience by walking into the boss’ office and ritualistically listing her preferred pronouns. The boss seems to be impressed. So, everyone is corrupt except the person with gender dysphoria? I think you can see what this is all about.