VIVISXN loves “Taylor Mason”!
Homo Economicus, cool-headed quant and gender bending boffin. We love “Taylor Mason” in Billions.
In a fast-moving narrative, Showtime’s Billion’s explores Wall Street in all its rip roaring, risk-taking zeal. But the show’s coolest character, “Taylor Mason” (played by the amazing Asia Kate Dillon), is an unusual braniac who uses lightning-quick logic, brain-twisting math and super-powered cognition to pluck billions in fleeting dollars out of the market. Mimicking quant gods like Ed Thorp, James Simons, David Harding and investor David Einhorn, and possessing Spock-like characteristics, always coolly ‘maximising utility’ at every stage, Taylor is a hyper-talented trader and quick-witted hedge fund chameleon. But there a deeply humanistic undercurrent to Taylor’s character, too.
A gender bender archetype and non-binary avatar, Taylor’s performances are nuanced and compelling and have marked the show as a true-to-life trailblazer. The fact that Billions — a series about greed, fear, pleasure, pain, power and wealth on Wall Street — is such an unlikely vehicle to explore gender identity [and pomo finance] is also what makes it so interesting. Taylor embodies a gender-nonconforming voice that is especially important (and scarce) in an overwhelmingly non-binary culture. Yet while more people are challenging the gender binary, society is still largely unclear what exactly it means to do so.
We love Billions because it is the first show to encapsulate, delineate and dramatize someone who identifies as neither male nor female and uses the pronouns “they” and “them.” Taylor is also ace at personifying the economics/finance profession in all its contradictions and conundrums: the ‘dismal science’ is, on the one hand, about ‘agents’ who are strictly logical, centered on clearly defined goals and free from the unsteady influences of emotion or irrationality; and, on the other hand, about people who are uncertain, error-prone, and behave like trend-following sheep with which most of us can identify.
Taylor brilliantly reconciles these conflicting propensities with a tilt towards the ‘primacy of existence.’ At the same time, Taylor demonstrates that capital allocators can scarcely escape the biases of behavioral finance and human quirkiness: the role of psychological, social, cognitive, and emotional factors on decision-making and the concomitant impact on market prices and returns. The risk management profession has never been depicted so well in pop culture.
Anyway, Taylor Mason is an enlightening, multi-layered personality playing multi-dimensional chess in a complex and chaotic world. We can all learn something from this series. Watch Billions and check out Asia Kate Dillon’s work here.
Images via Showtime‘s Billions