This Billions Romance Is The Purest Thing On TV (& One Of The Most Important)

Photo: Courtesy of Showtime.
Maybe all that time I spent toying with the Tarot has manifested into actual psychic abilities, because while watching Billions last week, I wrote down this exact phrase: “Taylor needs a love interest!” Well, lo and behold, on the subsequent episode of Billions, Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon), the first gender non-binary character on television and an essential addition to Axe Capital, had their first (televised) romance.
And it was totally, absolutely perfect. Nestled within the usual five-dimensional chess of Billions was a storyline worthy of its very own romantic comedy. Here’s the set-up. Fierce, focused Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) flies to California to meet with Oscar Langstraat (Mike Birbiglia), the venture philanthropist who uses his funds to try to better the world — a sharp contrast to the ministrations of Axe Capital.
What follows is a progression through the classic stages of a pop culture love story. First step: The two love interests are repelled before they are entranced. Taylor, unimpressed by the first five seconds of the first presentation they see, decides this is a waste of their time and leaves. Oscar runs after them, as love interests also often do, and convinces them to stay for the rest of the presentation. This is a good thing — because as Taylor learns, their minds work the same way.
Which brings us to the next step in the love story: The two love interests bond. As Oscar and Taylor have an in-depth discussion on the logistics of the attack on the Death Star in Star Wars, we can practically see sparks flying. Oscar’s seamless proposition — “Have dinner with me?”— that comes at the end of their conversation, is my new favorite understated declaration of interest. The melding of minds continues through an intense game of Netrunner, complete with Taylor’s quintessential raising of eyebrows.
Even though Oscar and Taylor's romance was progressing through all the well-trod steps, since Taylor hasn’t had a love interest — or much of a personal life at all, for this matter — until this episode, I doubted my interpretation of the events. Could Taylor, who’s known for their relentlessly rational approach to life, really be experiencing heart-flutters? When it came to the progression of this coupling, the uncertainty wasn’t of the “Will they, won’t they?” variety. It was, “Is the character Taylor going to be written as if they live a full existence, and have a life outside of the office?” By the time Taylor and Oscar went back to Oscar’s luxurious house and the music started playing, I realized the answer would be a resounding yes.
This moment was another groundbreaking victory for Taylor's representation as a nonbinary character on TV. It was one thing for Taylor, the incredibly talented analyst, to be accepted as an equal in Axe Capital — they add tremendous value to the firm. It's another thing for Taylor's nonbinary identity to come up in the context of a personal life. Which is what made Oscar so perfect. Oscar never once stutters over “they.” He never inquires about Taylor's gender or sexual preferences, because he doesn't need to: It's obvious Taylor is into him.
This brings us to the last step: The two love interests come together. This hookup scene is earnest, and hot, and just as revolutionary as Taylor’s character is. After making out, Taylor removes their shirt, Oscar removes his, and they proceed like two adults who are super into each other — not like people who are obsessed with labels. Because Taylor is far more than a label. They're a person.
I, for one, can't wait to see what aspect of Taylor's personal life we see next. With any luck, it'll involve another flight to Silicon Valley.
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