There is a meta quality to some of the humor. Why did you want, in the context of the show, to comment on these ideas of Wall Street that we have?
Cahan: I think for us part of the fun of this show is we try to make the show authentic but at the same time we aren't afraid to look back at it with a wink. Our characters are slightly prescient about the fact that some of the social mores of the '80s are now, when we look back... we are slightly horrified. And at the same time, there is some amazing stuff about the '80s, like the music and the art and the fashion, that we want to laud. So, because we're not a drama, it weirdly gave us this fun grab bag [where] we could take the stuff we love and we could poke loving fun at the stuff that feels outdated now.
How did you come up with the idea of having literal Lehman brothers?
Caspe: It was '08 and Lehman Brothers had just gone under. We knew if we were going to tell the story of all the people that couldn't get hired at the top firms, we needed one of the top firms represented. It somehow came into our heads that it would be funny if the Lehman brothers were twins in the villain '80s movie trope of evil twins. Then we also thought it would be a way the show could kind of feel relevant because it's referencing this firm that everyone knows eventually will go under, but seeing them kind of in their heyday. It's not obviously based on any actual Lehman brothers or any two people running the firm. We kind of played with the form as much as we could in homages to tropes from the '80s that we liked, like evil twin brothers and some of the evil characters having eye patches. There's a joke in the third episode -- actually a joke that a reviewer has said he doesn't like -- where Horatio Sanz's character mistakes what Duck Hunt is called. That is a way where it is playing with the form or alluding to those '80s jokes where everyone used to say "Mike Hunt." And obviously in certain cases it's not going to land for people and that's maybe a very subtle one. That was such a dumb structure for a joke back then that it just felt like, why not have one of our dumb characters making a dumb joke that is also in the structure of a dumb '80s joke felt like a funny comment on that and on joke structure and things like that. Some of those things are maybe too subtle to come through. There's a bunch of that stuff throughout the show, which would be termed meta.
How far did you guys did into research to lend that side of the show a verisimilitude?
Cahan: We did a lot of reading. We read Barbarians at the Gate, we read The Predator's Ball, we read Den of Thieves. There's a documentary on Paul Tudor Jones that's really interesting called Trader. We did a lot of research on the era, but at the same time we're a comedy and God knows we're not economists or anything near. So, for us, it was important to make it simple enough and fun enough and hopefully enjoyable enough and exciting enough for the audience that they could follow along and not get bogged down in stuff that feels like it would be closer to drama territory or documentary territory. And I think when you talk about the Lehman brothers, that's kind of a good example of how this show exists about a foot off the ground. We really want you to fall in love with the characters and be rooted in their relationships and their struggles, but at the same time, when it comes to the economics of it all, we did all the research and then, I always say, we threw it all away. To me, the most interesting stuff in those books was always insane stories and the insane tales of excess and greed of these characters and I think that's what we stole more from. The part of the conception of the show that got us excited was there was no definitive answer for why the market crashed. So there's a few theories and we incorporate some of them into the finale, but it felt fun to just do a fuck-all take on what could have happened. I think for us the Maurice Monroe-Blair Pfaff smashing into each other with the coke on the floor is the big bang of what will happen one year earlier and crash and tank the market.
You set up this year-long time frame. Are you giving yourself a season to get to the crash? Will you have an answer to who that body is? Or are you setting up a multi-season arc leading up to the crash?
Cahan: As a super mystery nerd, I always find it a little bit unsatisfying if a question that's raised -- unless it's the bedrock of the series -- isn't answered by the end of the series. It feels like a promise that you want to keep. So we intend to keep that promise both ways. We're excited for people to check it out. I would say ultimately the clock will click down to Black Monday for the finale.