11 Binge-Worthy Netflix Series and Movies About Money and All the Ways It Can Corrupt You
Everyone loves a good drama, but nothing will make the wires of your brain work faster than a complex film about the intricacies of money, business, finance, and the shady side of it all. With enhanced community quarantine extended, here are a couple of money-minded movies and series you can binge-watch on Netflix to fill in the time:
The Big Short
If there’s one film that can entertainingly explain the catastrophe of the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, The Big Short is the one to watch. The film explains how the U.S. housing bubble triggered the crisis, while also explaining the complicated financial elements at play by breaking the fourth wall.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Here’s a classic about the very real story of a stockbroker’s notorious corruption and fraud scandal on Wall Street. The film follows Jordan Belfort’s rise to the top, as well as his rapid downfall. A mix of financial anecdotes and outrageous humor, The Wolf of Wall Street is an entertaining, if overdramatic, peek into the U.S. stock market.
The Social Network
Based on the true story of how Facebook was formed by Mark Zuckerberg in his college dorm, the film depicts the beginnings of what later became the world’s biggest social media platform and one of the richest companies in the world. It's perhaps the film that first depicted tech entrepreneurs as rock stars, and the portrayal isn't too far-off the mark in this new age.
Without giving too much away, the title already suggests that the film is about investment banking and the dark side to the stock market. The intelligent film follows an investment banker dealing with initial public offerings who is thrown into Wall Street’s world of betrayal and backstabbing. But at least in Equity, the plot attempts to expose the financial crimes at the heart of the stock market.
Another money crime film, The Laundromat tackles money laundering and shell companies by retelling the true story of Mossack Fonseca and the Panama Papers, the international scandal that leaked the offshore accounts of thousands of politicians, public officials, and billionaires. The story is told in parts, similar to how the Panama Papers exposed the multi-layered depth of the global financial crime market.
Blending genres of financial crime and thriller, Uncut Gems explores the shady side of wealth and debt, featuring loan sharks, jewelry thefts, and sports bets. Although it’s not quite as intelligent The Laundromat or as obvious as The Wolf on Wall Street—both of which explore how to (illegally) get rich—Uncut Gems reveals the lengths people will go to avoid the chokehold of debt.
At first glance, this is hardly a film about business. There are no businessmen, suits, or calculators around. But a closer look will reveal how The Platform is a huge, if obvious, allegory about the (lethal) pitfalls of capitalism—offering a raw, if gruesome, look at the reality of it all. The film exposes society's class structure, perpetuated by those who live at the top whose altruism determines the survival of those at the bottom.
TV series Billions features the true story of U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, a relentless federal prosecutor responsible for putting hundreds of Wall Street brokers behind bars for insider trading, market manipulation, and securities fraud. By all means, Bharara is a heroic, underrated figure in modern history, but for his work exposing the sharks of Wall Street, the attorney was sacked when current U.S. President Donald Trump, a Wall Street businessman, came into power.
You can’t talk about money without recognizing all the dirty money that exists behind the scenes. Narcos follows the empire built by the late drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, a Colombian druglord who made his riches off of cocaine and organized crime. He was perhaps Latin America's greatest and most corrupt billionaire, and we all know how that turned out in the end.
The British version of Narcos, Peaky Blinders dives into the post-World War I world of Great Britain through the eyes of urban gangsters. The show explores the realities of factory workers, exploitation, and labor rights in this age, as well as the ruthlessness of the 20th centuries first millionaires. Coupled with all the grime and cursing of Birmingham gangsters, Peaky Blinders adds a curious edge to the organized crime and dirty business.
Technically, a series about stealing money is still about money. All jokes aside, the popular Netflix series has been said to be another obvious allegory against late stage capitalism reflecting the masses’ exhaustion for banks and politics, especially since the film is set after the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008. For all its humor and exciting heist scenes, Money Heist is still about, well, money—and how most robbers are not, in fact, the Robin Hoods of the world.