As we eagerly anticipate the return of ‘Billions’ for its seventh and final season on Friday, August 11, 2023, now is a perfect time to revisit some aspects of the previous season.
Among the many debates sparked by Season 6, one particular gripe stands out: the unsuccessful attempt to cast Mike Prince as the season’s villain. Despite the best efforts of the showrunners, many viewers – myself included – ended up rooting for Prince rather than against him.
Indeed, Mike Prince might have bribed Olympic officials, but let’s be realistic: hints of bribery are nothing new when it comes to the World Cup or the Olympics. What sets Prince apart is his consistent commitment to his principles.
He repeatedly put his money where his mouth was, refusing billions in Chinese investment and introducing the ‘Prince List’ to vet the organizations he’d accept money from.
But Prince’s ambitions stretched far beyond just corporate responsibility. He had grand plans for New York City, starting with bringing the Olympic games there.
This initiative wasn’t just about the thrill of hosting a major international event – it was about revitalizing the city’s economy and raising its morale. Once the games were over, Prince planned to repurpose the Olympic facilities into low-income housing, potentially providing shelter for thousands of New Yorkers.
His big ideas didn’t stop there. Prince even floated the concept of implementing universal basic income for New Yorkers, a move that could substantially improve the quality of life for the city’s average residents. Plus, he wanted to give the city a transit upgrade with clean, new electric train cars, funded entirely through private investment.
Despite these noble intentions, Prince continually faced obstacles, mostly from Chuck Rhoades. Watching Chuck repeatedly try to undermine Prince’s efforts proved more than a little frustrating. Worse, Chuck’s persistent criticism of the wealthy, despite his own trust fund baby status, felt jarringly hypocritical.
The contrast between Prince and Chuck couldn’t have been more stark. Prince, a self-made multi-billionaire who rose from humble beginnings, was trying to improve life for his fellow New Yorkers.
Yes, he has flaws – ambition, a god complex, and a penchant for self-service among them – but these are common among people at his level. Compared to Bobby Axelrod, a character steeped in insider trading and market manipulation, Prince is practically a saint.
By the end of Season 6, the showrunners clearly wanted viewers to see Mike Prince as an existential threat. But instead, many of us saw something very different.
We saw a man trying to use his wealth and influence for the common good, while Chuck appeared as a bitter, broken man more concerned with “winning” than doing what’s right for New York.