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'Billions' and 'Trust' share jaded view of the ruthless rich

Not to say TV loves the eccentric lives of billionaires, but two dramas about them will air opposite each other Sunda...

Posted: Mar 24, 2018 11:20 AM
Updated: Mar 24, 2018 11:20 AM

Not to say TV loves the eccentric lives of billionaires, but two dramas about them will air opposite each other Sunday: "Trust," an FX series that's the second iteration in the last four months of oil magnate J. Paul Getty's life; and "Billions," the Showtime series about a hedge fund manager at war with New York's U.S. attorney.

Although one show is based on fact and the other is reality-inspired fiction, they share a basic footprint in examining the corrupting influence of wealth, with "Billions" especially focused on the clash between private influence and those wielding public levers of power.

Inevitably, "Trust" will be compared to "All the Money in the World," the recent Ridley Scott movie about the kidnapping of Getty's grandson that became more memorable when Christopher Plummer was enlisted as a last-minute replacement for scandal-tarred Kevin Spacey.

The series format, however, allows for a slow-motion look at the story that doesn't necessarily benefit the telling, examining what happened from a number of different characters' perspectives -- an idea that proves less enticing than that sounds.

The first hour is considerably better than the next two, focusing on Getty, played with imperial splendor by Donald Sutherland. As the show begins, his son's suicide has left a void in Getty's succession plans, at the precise moment when grandson John Paul Getty III (Harris Dickinson) waltzes back into his life.

Mostly, Getty surrounds himself with hangers-on and sycophants, prodding what amounts to his royal court to debate who loves him the most. Getty, meanwhile, rages about his "feckless progeny," especially compared to those bearing the names of other industrial titans, like Joe Kennedy.

Unfortunately, "Trust" doesn't compound its interest over subsequent hours, which chronicle Paul's kidnapping, and the elder Getty -- unwilling to pay "a single, solitary cent" in ransom -- dispatching security chief Fletcher Chase (Brendan Fraser) to seek his release. Part of the problem involves having Fraser speak directly to the camera, perhaps intended to be more "Fargo"-esque, but which winds up feeling just plain goofy.

"Trust" does boast a strong cast -- including Hilary Swank as Getty's daughter in law, little used in the early going -- and it's interesting to see how it differs from "All the Money in the World." In tandem, they provide an example of how writers can work from the same basic set of facts and conjure two somewhat disparate treatments.

Where "Trust" yields diminishing returns, "Billions" remains a shrewd investment, having ended its second season with a scintillating twist on the central cat-and-mouse game, and picking up pretty seamlessly where that left off.

Without giving anything away, billionaire trader Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) has been outmaneuvered by ambitious attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), putting his company's future at risk. Still, Axelrod isn't lacking for resources, and despite having struck a blow against Axelrod -- at the expense of betraying those closest to him -- Rhoades isn't out of the woods either, with a shift in the regulatory climate among the potential challenges he faces.

Once again, "Billions" distinguishes itself as an extremely smart, high-stakes chess match, where the principals play Monopoly with real buildings, and the combatants are so ruthlessly determined to win that they're blinded to, or simply ignore, the collateral damage.

Both shows offer glimpses into lives of wealth and privilege, where money enables the principals to indulge their darkest fantasies but doesn't necessarily buy happiness or contentment.

Even so, when it comes to dramatizing the lifestyles of the filthy rich, the one-two punch provided by "Trust" and "Billions" is a reminder that the ongoing fascination remains one of TV's most renewable resources.

"Trust" and "Billions" season 3 premiere on March 25 at 10 p.m. on FX and Showtime, respectively.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
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