Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.


By Chip Brown

The day will pretty much take care of itself if Maggie Siff can just get out of bed.

Hers is a large bed in a modest apartment not far from Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Her difficulty has nothing to do with the usual problems that make it hard for people to get out of bed, like the pointlessness of life or a dull job. It's really just a question of excessive togetherness, which sometime during the night will have turned the mattress into the cabin room scene from A Night at the Opera or, closer to home, a rush hour subway car on the F train.

Maggie Siff in a royal blue gown embellished with a floral pattern.

Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

On one side is Siff's husband, Paul Ratliff, a psychotherapist. Insinuated between them is their 5-year-old daughter, Lucy, who will have wandered in from a bed of her own. Flanking Siff so that it's almost impossible for her to roll over will be their shaggy 80-pound Labradoodle, Augie, who has soulful eyes and a face that resembles an Old Testament prophet's. And finally, snugging up the works like an extra layer of bubble wrap, is Iris the cat.

"When I wake up, I can hardly move," says Siff.

Maggie Siff in a royal blue gown embellished with a floral pattern.

Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

It's hard to imagine that the insightful, soft-spoken 44-year-old actress who starts her mornings immobilized in bedded family bliss is the same woman who has made a television career as what she herself once called "the queen of toxic masculinity." Siff plays in-house corporate therapist Wendy Rhoades, the ballsy female lead of the SHOWTIME series Billions, now about to begin its fifth season.

By day she slaps the alpha back into alpha hedge fund traders for her cocksure, corner-cutting billionaire boss, Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). By night she is a sometime in-house dominatrix indulging the S&M fantasies of her bulldog husband, Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), a crusading U.S. Attorney and Axelrod's arch adversary. In the pilot episode four years ago, Maggie Siff, in thigh-high stiletto boots (and advised on set by a bondage and discipline "consultant"), was called upon to dispense some "correction" by putting a cigarette out on her trussed-up husband's chest and then anointing the burn with a fresh stream of urine.

Maggie Siff in a royal blue gown embellished with a floral pattern.

Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

All in a day's work.

"I'm a lot more controlled as a person than I am as an actor," says Siff, sitting in the back of a neighborhood coffee shop in Brooklyn on an S&M-cold December morning. She'd arrived in jeans, a heavy coat, thick wool hat, and purple scarf over a beige sweater and a green shirt that picks up the hazel in her eyes. "I monitor myself pretty closely as a person. When I'm performing, I try to let that go."

She cites the example of another scene from the Billions pilot in which trader Mick Danzig, played by Nathan Darrow, enters her office moping about his laggard positions and back-of-the-pack performance. Siff tells him to snap out of it and reminds him he's the financial equivalent of a Navy SEAL. The two actors had rehearsed the scene, but when they were shooting it Siff found herself unexpectedly punching Darrow in the chest to emphasize her point about his exceptional abilities.

Maggie Siff in a royal blue gown embellished with a floral pattern.

Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

"When you create a character, you can't plan the shape things will take," she says. "I always know I'm doing a good job when I'm surprised by what happens. Surprise can take the form of a gesture or a vocalization—something that comes from the emotion. If you're not pushing for a result, emotion can land you in some strange places."

And where emotions might not take you, scripts will. After she read the pilot for Billions, Siff wanted to know how the S&M scenes would serve the story, whether they would be used sparingly without being exploitative or sensationalized.

"I also wanted to make sure I wouldn't have to perform them in my underwear."

Maggie Siff sitting on a shabby-chic chair that looks like a throne.

Dress by Vivienne Westwood. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Celine. Ring and bracelet, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Maggie Siff was born in Albany, New York, in 1974 and raised in Riverdale after her parents decided to stop growing a lot of their own food at their home in upstate New York and move to the Bronx in 1977. Maggie was their last child, eight years younger than her brother, Ivan, who now works in Germany as a cabinetmaker and is a fluent-in-Japanese 10th-degree black belt in Aikido, and 10 years younger than her sister, Ellen, a community outreach educator at Bates College in Maine.

"My family had a whole life together in the sixties before I was born," she says.

Siff's Russian-Jewish paternal grandfather was one of the tutors of Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Her father, David, now 84 and living in New York, worked as a theater and television actor in the 1950s and '60s, appearing under the stage name David Faulkner in shows such as Wagon Train and The Untouchables. After earning a Ph.D. in Victorian literature, he quit acting and took a job as an assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where his outspoken antiwar activism and membership in the radical Students for a Democratic Society eventually got him fired in November 1970. He reinvented himself again as a sportswriter and resumed his acting career.

Maggie Siff in floral-inspired fashion.

Dress by Zimmermann. Earrings by Yaya. Ring by Kavant & Sharart.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Siff's mother, Jenny Dowling, grew up in an ex-pat family in Mexico, "a most brilliant person, an autodidact, an extraordinary writer," Siff says. She, too, had acted but eventually gave it up. She spent many years working for the New York City government and is now employed as a Spanish-English translator for immigrant communities in Portland, Maine.

"I think after the 1960s my parents were in recovery mode. One of my aunts was in the Weather Underground. During the Olympics we rooted for the Russians! The feeling in the house was upper-middle-class Jewish, but we were culturally different. My parents were anti-consumers. We didn't have a lot of money. For about five years in a row on Halloween, I dressed up as a gypsy because my mother had a lot of Mexican clothes. Not a shred of princess."

Maggie Siff standing on a fire escape in a floral dress.

Dress by Temperley London. Earrings by Jennifer Zeuner. Rings by Kavant & Sharart and Selim Mouzannar.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Maggie Siff knew she wanted to be a performer when she was 8 years old. And not long after that, she discovered the potential for humiliation that is part and parcel of anyone who courts life on a stage.

"My brother caught me singing the Toys R Us jingle when I was 9," she says. "To his credit, he later wrote me a letter and apologized for making fun of me."

"Do you still remember the jingle?"

As if the 1980s shelves of pre-bankrupt Toys R Us were still beckoning, Siff shifts instantly into a saccharine singsong: "I'm a Toys R Us kid, I got the best for so much less. I don't want to grow up because if I did, I wouldn't be a Toys R Us kid!" Then she laughs. "The irony is my parents would never buy me a toy from Toys R Us. They would never allow a Barbie in the house."

Maggie Siff standing on a fire escape in a floral dress.

Dress by Temperley London. Earrings by Jennifer Zeuner. Rings by Kavant & Sharart and Selim Mouzannar.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Siff was accepted at New York City's famous High School of Performing Arts, but at her mother's insistence she attended the equally challenging Bronx High School of Science—four years of math classes (including calculus), Latin, and a heavy dose of lab work. She flourished in speech and debate courses, traveling with the school team to area tournaments on weekends to perform.

She placed first a few times, delivering monologues from plays by Craig Lucas and Athol Fugard, which attracted the attention of a tournament judge from Regis High School. The drama teacher at the private Jesuit all-boys prep school on the east side of Manhattan was looking to recruit girls for a Shakespeare production. So Siff, 16, started taking the subway into Manhattan to rehearse her theatrical debut as Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Black and white photo of Maggie Siff in New York City.

Dress by Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Selim Mouzannar. Rings, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

When she went off to college at Bryn Mawr, she fell under the influence of professor of theater Mark Lord and took part in a number of student productions, including a Beckett play done at the crumbling ruin of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

"Mark taught the skill of presence and precision and controlled movement on stage that felt more like dance," Siff says.

Black and white photo of Maggie Siff in New York City.

Dress by Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Graduating with a degree in English in 1996 she quickly made a name for herself, appearing in numerous Philadelphia regional theater productions. She won Philadelphia theater awards, but to pay the rent she also had to scuffle around in various jobs, from waitressing to cleaning houses to working as a temp at a hedge fund for three weeks, a gig that gave her a glimpse of the world of Billions. Looking to deepen her craft, she enrolled in a three-year graduate acting program at New York University in 2001, when she was 27.

"I was feeling all the worldly pressures, the monetary pressures of trying to be an actor. And the program at NYU reminded me of the inherent transformative power of acting. It taught me to become a vessel for surprise—how to remain open to things dropping in, how to trust in a paradoxical process that marries work with a lack of control. It takes training to drop artifice and let yourself be a conduit. For me the whole experience was like being parched in a desert and somebody giving you water."

Black and white photo of Maggie Siff in New York City.

Dress by Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Selim Mouzannar. Rings, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

After NYU, Siff's career took off, fueled more by television work than theater. She's ridden to a measure of fame over the past 12 years, first playing a department store heiress, Rachel Menken, who has an affair with Don Draper on AMC's Mad Men. Then living in Los Angeles, she starred for six seasons in the FX series Sons of Anarchy. Her character, Tara Knowles, a doctor who becomes the wife of the head of a motorcycle gang, exited the show after her mother-in-law drowned her in a sink of dishwater while stabbing her in the back of the head with a barbecue fork.

A death like that might make anyone want to stay in bed with a Labradoodle and a cat. Siff had gotten married during her run on Sons of Anarchy; she and Ratliff, who'd been an actor before becoming a therapist, had courted by email; on their first anniversary, her husband had the correspondence printed and bound and gave the book to Siff as a present.

Black and white photo of Maggie Siff in New York City.

Dress by Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Selim Mouzannar. Rings, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

After their daughter, Lucy, was born in 2014, Maggie Siff was called for a Billions audition. The producers had reportedly screened more than 100 actresses before bowing to the queen of toxic masculinity, seeing in her reign some steely quality undaunted by outsize male egos. Before and after the start of each season, Siff has made a point of sitting down with the showrunners to talk about Wendy Rhoades, who initially seemed to be the moral compass of Billions, giving "corrections" of one sort or another to her moral immoralist of a boss and her immoral moralist of a husband.

"I said to the showrunners, 'I don't want to be a moral compass. It's boring.' The show is about corruption. I'd like to see Wendy lose some of her self-control and then see if she can put herself back together. We live in an age of male anti-heroes. Is there a truly female antihero? All the female antiheroes seem to be copying the male form. What really interests me about Wendy is how complicated she is; she's not one thing, she's not one color, she's not consigned to one role."

Maggie Siff standing on a fire escape in a floral dress.

Dress by Temperley London. Earrings by Jennifer Zeuner. Rings by Kavant & Sharart and Selim Mouzannar.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

The same could be said for Siff herself. Last spring she starred in a New York production of Sam Shepard's The Curse of the Starving Class, and next fall, when season five of Billions is finished, she is scheduled to perform the role of Lady in a production of Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending.

"I want to do it all," Siff says. "Film, television, theater. Theater is much more intense because you get to use all the tools, physical, vocal. You're in real time; nobody's editing your performance. It's very taxing, too—there's a liminal quality; you feel sometimes as if you're about to go over to another dimension. I'm truly interested in acting. I've always thought if I had another career, it would be teaching acting."

For a second Maggie Siff seems preoccupied by a hypothetical life. Then she shrugs, knowing full well that at the moment there just isn't room in the bed.

Originally published in Watch Magazine, March-April 2020.

PHOTOGRAPHY: David Needleman

STYLIST: Cristina Ehrlich

HAIR: Bradley Irion

MAKE-UP: Genevieve Herr

Season 5 of Billions returns Sunday, May 3 on SHOWTIME. Catch up on the SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME® apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

Dress by Zimmermann. Earrings by Yaya.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

As mojo-moving therapist to the high-stakes hedge fund traders of hit SHOWTIME series Billions, actor Maggie Siff gives us a brilliant character unlike any we've seen before.

To honor her fifth season of playing Wendy Rhoades to edgy perfection, we unveil yet another of Siff's talents: the one where she could hold her own alongside any supermodel while rocking spring's freshest frocks.

Maggie Siff in a floral dress among floral arrangements.

Dress by J. Mendel.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Scroll to see more spring photos of Maggie Siff as seen through the lens of photographer David Needleman and reimagined by stylist Cristina Ehrlich for the March-April 2020 issue of Watch.

Season 5 of Billions will return soon. Catch up on the SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME® apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

Yaaas, queen!

Maggie Siff in a royal blue gown embellished with a floral pattern.

Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Playing ballsy women who remain undaunted in the face of powerful and sometimes scary men, says Maggie Siff, is what once led her to describe her TV self as "the queen of toxic masculinity."

Comfort zone

Maggie Siff in a royal blue gown embellished with a floral pattern.

Dress by Pamella Roland. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Brooklyn-based Maggie Siff is married to a psychotherapist, and they're proud parents to five-year-old daughter Lucy, as well as Augie, an 80-pound Labradoodle, and a cat named Iris.

Cool factor

Black and white photo of Maggie Siff in New York City.

Dress by Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

"I'm a lot more controlled as a person than I am as an actor," says Maggie Siff, who had to convincingly play a stiletto-booted dominatrix in Billions' pilot episode, a feat for which the help of a bondage and discipline "consultant" was enlisted.

Pleasantly surprised

Black and white photo of Maggie Siff in New York City.

Dress by Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Selim Mouzannar. Rings, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

"When you create a character, you can't plan the shape things will take," Maggie Siff tells Watch in her March-April 2020 cover story. "I always know I'm doing a good job when I'm surprised by what happens."

Modest moment

Maggie Siff standing on a fire escape in a floral dress.

Dress by Temperley London. Earrings by Jennifer Zeuner. Rings by Kavant & Sharart and Selim Mouzannar.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

After reading Billions' pilot, Maggie Siff tells us, she wanted to ensure that her S&M scenes would serve the story, rather than simply being exploitive: "I also wanted to make sure I wouldn't have to perform them in my underwear."

Frills and thrills

Maggie Siff standing on a fire escape in a floral dress.

Dress by Temperley London. Earrings by Jennifer Zeuner. Rings by Kavant & Sharart and Selim Mouzannar.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Maggie Siff's father, who holds a Ph.D. in Victorian Literature, was a TV and theater actor in the '50s and '60s—appearing in shows such as Wagon Train and The Untouchables under the stage name David Faulkner.

Modern love

Maggie Siff sitting on a shabby-chic chair that looks like a throne.

Dress by Vivienne Westwood. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Celine. Ring and bracelet, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Maggie Siff is the youngest of three children by eight years, with a brother who works in Germany as a cabinetmaker, and a sister who teaches at Bates College in Maine. "My family had a whole life together in the sixties before I was born," she shares with Watch in her March-April 2020 interview.

Proud Maggie

Closeup of Maggie Siff in a floral dress.

Dress by J. Mendel.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Maggie Siff describes her mother, who once also acted but now works as a Spanish-English translator for immigrant communities in Portland, Maine, as "a most brilliant person, an autodidact, an extraordinary writer."

Vivid contrasts

Maggie Siff standing on a fire escape in a floral dress.

Dress by Temperley London. Earrings by Jennifer Zeuner. Rings by Kavant & Sharart and Selim Mouzannar.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

"The feeling in the house was upper-middle-class Jewish," says Maggie Siff of her childhood, "but we were culturally different. My parents were anti-consumers. We didn't have a lot of money."

Mother of invention

Black and white photo of Maggie Siff in New York City.

Dress by Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Selim Mouzannar. Rings, vintage.

"For about five years in a row on Halloween, I dressed up as a gypsy because my mother had a lot of Mexican clothes," Maggie Siff tells Watch in her March-April 2020 cover story, reflecting on her anti-consumerist upbringing. "Not a shred of princess."

Budding talent

Black and white photo of Maggie Siff in New York City.

Dress by Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Selim Mouzannar. Rings, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Maggie Siff wanted to act since the age of eight, and recalls getting an early taste of actorly humiliation when her brother caught her singing the Toys R Us jingle. "To his credit, he later wrote me a letter and apologized for making fun of me."

The art of the craft

Maggie Siff in a royal blue gown embellished with a floral pattern.

Dress by Pamella Roland. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Maggie Siff, who graduated from Bryn Mawr with a degree in English in 1996, recalls the influence of her theater professor Mark Lord, noting he "taught the skill of presence and precision and controlled movement on stage that felt more like dance."

Back to the future

Maggie Siff in a royal blue gown embellished with a floral pattern.

Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Though she was winning Philadelphia theater awards, a very young Maggie Siff still hustled to pay her rent, and tells us a three-week temp gig at a hedge fund company gave her a sneak peek at the Billions world.

Fresh perspective

Maggie Siff in floral-inspired fashion.

Dress by Zimmermann. Earrings by Yaya. Ring by Kavant & Sharart.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

After enrolling in a three-year graduate acting program at NYU, the then-struggling Maggie Siff says she was reminded of "the inherent transformative power of acting," likening her NYU experience to "being parched in a desert and somebody giving you water."

Dream girl 

Maggie Siff in floral-inspired fashion.

Dress by Zimmermann. Earrings by Yaya. Ring by Kavant & Sharart.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

"I want to do it all," Maggie Siff tells Watch in her March-April 2020 cover story. "Film, television, theater… I'm truly interested in acting. I've always thought if I had another career, it would be teaching acting."

Originally published in Watch Magazine, March-April 2020.

Season 5 of Billions will return soon. Catch up on the SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME® apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

Dress by Vivienne Westwood. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Celine. Ring and bracelet, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

In this exclusive teaser, Billions star Maggie Siff shows off her natural grace, strength, and resilience—much like a single stunning rose amidst a garden jungle of unkept vines.

Get a first look at these never-seen-before portraits, and don't miss the upcoming March-April 2020 issue of Watch featuring our Maggie Siff cover story and fashion photo shoot—on newsstands March 17!

Season 5 of Billions returns Sunday, May 3 on SHOWTIME. Catch up on the SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME® apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

In full bloom

Maggie Siff in a blue floral gown.

Dress by Pamella Roland. Ring by Yaya. Earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Onscreen and off, Maggie Siff captivates her audience with her remarkable poise, beauty, and power.

Cinematic beauty

Black and white photo of Maggie Siff in New York City.

Dress by Corpus. Coat by Max Mara. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Selim Mouzannar. Rings, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Case in point. This black and white candid portrait is perfection.

All hail the Queen

Maggie Siff sitting on a throne-like seat.

Dress by Vivienne Westwood. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Earrings by Celine. Ring and bracelet, vintage.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Cristina Ehrlich.

Like her brilliant Billions character Wendy Rhoades, Maggie Siff is fierce and fabulous in this high-glam spring fashion photo shoot.

SUBSCRIBE NOW: Look Forward To Seeing More Of Your Favorite TV Stars In Your Mailbox!

Season 5 of Billions returns Sunday, May 3 on SHOWTIME. Catch up on the SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME® apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

Photo Credit: James Minchin/SHOWTIME.


By Emily Hirshey

Have you ever thought you weren't poor and then, after binge-watching 36 hours of television, realized you actually are? No? Then you clearly haven't watched Billions (or you actually aren't poor, in which case, mazel!).

The SHOWTIME drama centers on Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Damian Lewis) whose hedge fund, Axe Capital, brings in a bonkers amount of money and thus is constantly under scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission—and the U.S. attorney's office, headed up by Axe's mortal enemy, Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti). Stuck smack dab between the two men is Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff ) Chuck's wife, who serves as the in-house performance coach at Axe Capital and Axe's own personal Yoda.

Malin Akerman as Lara Axelrod Damian Lewis as Bobby Axe Axelrod Maggie Siff as Wendy Rhoades and Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades standing in an office space

Malin Akerman as Lara Axelrod, Damian Lewis as Bobby "Axe" Axelrod, Maggie Siff as Wendy Rhoades, and Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades in SHOWTIME series Billions.

Photo Credit: Jim Fiscus/SHOWTIME.

It's a messy triangle, made only messier by Chuck's law-abiding co-workers and Axe's law-defying minions (led by David Costabile's Mike "Wags" Wagner and his triumph of a mustache), but made shinier by the loads of cash that every character seems to possess (including Chuck, and the dude works for the government!).

Season 5 of Billions will return to SHOWTIME soon. Catch up now on SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

Maggie Siff as Wendy Rhoades standing next to Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades

Psychiatrist and performance coach Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) joined Axe Capital long before her husband Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) became U.S. Attorney.

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME.

WEEK ONE

I've never wanted to work in finance, but the beyond gorg aesthetic of Axe Capital is making me rethink. What sort of things would I have to trade to buy an $83 million home as a pick-me-up after my dog got neutered? Or to afford dropping $125 million to have a building named after me just to stick it to a childhood enemy? (Yes, Axe did both of these things!)

With my mind full of questions and my pockets full of chump change, I know there's only one person who can solve my problems: Wendy Rhoades. Because, y'all, Wendy is the TRUTH. There aren't enough praise-hands emojis in the world to explain how exceptionally bomb this chick is. Her husband, Axe, all of the traders, and literally every other character (well, except Axe's wife, Lara, played by Malin Akerman) turn to her in times of crisis, and she knows exactly how to find the root of the problem and how to solve it.

Malin Akerman as Lara Axelrod stepping off a a plane in a white coat

Axe's childhood-friend-turned-wife Lara Axelrod (Malin Akerman) adjusting to her new lifestyle.

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME.

Oh, and she looks chic as hell while doing it. The woman walks out of a SoulCycle class fresh as a daisy, sporting what looks to me like a cashmere coat and an alligator handbag, so naturally Axe is going to offer a year-end-bonus Maserati! You think he'd offer me that, as I walk out of a cheapo cycling class, wearing a stained sweatshirt my husband got for free and a backpack with actual duct tape holding it together? Please.

Maggie Siff as Wendy Rhoades taking a phone call while slightly bent over leaning on a table

Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) is stuck with the emotional labor on both sides of the Axelrod/Rhoades war.

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME.

WEEK TWO

Not to talk only about Wendy (though I could definitely talk only about Wendy), but Season 2 has begun and Wendy got bangs and she is totally pulling them off. Seriously, is there anything this woman can't do?

Asia Katie as Taylor sitting at a desk with Damian Lewis as Axe

Axe, with Taylor, learns a costly lesson about mentoring the wrong protégé.

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME.

I will, in fact, talk about other stuff in this show, and that other stuff is the new trader on the block, Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon), who is young and bald and whose self-proclaimed pronoun is "them." Taylor's got swagger for days, despite standing out like a perfectly pressed, button-downed thumb, and they are immediately my second favorite character after Wendy (sorry, Axe and Chuck, I'm here for the ladies and the nonbinary). It appears that Axe and I have similar taste—as the season goes on and his relationship with Wendy strains, Taylor becomes Axe's go-to, moving quickly from a measly intern to his chief officer and actual successor when Axe gets in a whole lotta legal trouble thanks to Mr. Wendy Rhoades (Chuck). About that …

WEEK THREE

Well, um, there's been a bunch of money stuff and trading stuff and legal stuff and his-and-hers jets and something called "Ice Juice" and David Strathairn as a man called "Black Jack" and Mary-Louise Parker with a Southern accent and multiple Mark Cuban cameos and Chuck calling Axe "Bob" just to be mean and, oh yeah, Taylor got their heart broken and decided to start a rival firm, and lest I forget, Wendy's bangs have grown to the side and I can't decide my favorite look because they're all so good.

Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhodes sitting across a table from Damian Lewis as Bobby Axe Axelrod

Chuck Rhodes (Paul Giamatti) and Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Damian Lewis) find common ground.

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME.

Anyway, Wendy managed to unite sworn enemies Chuck and "Bob," and it's going to take all three of them to get revenge on Taylor. I, on the other hand, am still spending 30 minutes trying random words as discount codes on Postmates while trying to decide if I should throw out a bra that has only one functioning strap. Alas, I guess you aren't what you watch.

Originally published in Watch Magazine, January-February 2019.

Season 5 of Billions will return to SHOWTIME soon. Catch up now on SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME apps, as well as via SHOWTIME On Demand.

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