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Badmouth ‘Billions’? Not me. – The Boston Globe

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Paul Giamatti and Maggie Siff in “Billions.”

Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME

Paul Giamatti and Maggie Siff in “Billions.”

What can I say? “Billions” is fairly awful, but I just can’t let go. The Showtime series returns for season two on Sunday at 10 p.m., and I plan to keep up with it until I just can’t take it anymore.

It’s all pretty absurd, with Paul Giamatti’s Chuck Rhoades trying to bring down Damian Lewis’s billionaire Bobby Axelrod with the kind of fervor that is harming his marriage and his career. He’s also been deeply into an S&M relationship with his now estranged wife, Maggie Siff’s Wendy, who was working for Axelrod until the end of last season.

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It’s all nutty, and much of it defies logic as it flies by with the help of sleek production values and fast editing. But the bigger problem is the acting, or should I say over-acting. Giamatti goes way over the top, yelling and screaming and spitting his way through episodes. Lewis, too, does a lot of lecturing, emoting, and intensing (Is that a word? Please, make it so.) — all behind a slightly cooler surface. In their big scene together at the end of last season, the two actors seemed to be having an act-off, which was both fascinating (Giamatti won; he always does) and a little embarrassing.

But still I’ll watch, mesmerized by the question of how far this show will go, and how overcooked the acting will be, and how silly the sexual subplots will get. How bad will it be this season? I can’t wait to find out.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.



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