In one of the first scenes of HBO’s Ballers, a show about NFL players’ financial managers, Rob Corddry tells Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson that a funeral they’ve just come from had “some hot snatch there.” Over the rest of the 30-minute pilot, John David Washington bangs a woman over a sink in a dingy club bathroom, some guy takes a business call while a pneumatic-breasted female golfer rides him in reverse cowgirl, and, after a professional hiccup related to the bathroom banging, Washington gets on his knees to pray to God to allow him to continue to “ball on these motherfuckers.” On Sunday, as I watched the episode, and all nine subsequent episodes of season one, five sweet words kept floating through my increasingly Axe-body-spray-pickled brain: Elizabeth Warren loves this show.
Yes, former Harvard Law professor, current U.S. senator, 2020 presidential candidate, and woman of a million plans Elizabeth Warren is a huge fan of Ballers, a show that, in its first season, has an extended yacht-party sequence in which NFL players pose for pictures while they do coke off women’s bare chests.
Warren has been vocal about her love of the show for a couple of years now. In 2017, while expressing her support for the Writers Guild of America during its contract negotiations, she said she and her husband, Bruce, couldn’t wait for the next season of Ballers to start. The Rock shared an Uproxx article about her comment on Twitter, writing, “Luv this. Thx U Senator Elizabeth Warren (and hubby Bruce) for watching our @BallersHBO. Like you, we ball hard.” Warren in turn responded with a slight spoiler, which is something that happens sometimes when you talk about shows you’re excited about.
A year later, when asked on an episode of Pod Save America why, exactly, she loves Ballers so much, Warren responded, heatedly, “It is the Rock.”
And while I was just beginning my Ballers journey on Sunday, Warren tweeted about how excited she was for the season-five premiere that night and congratulated her old Twitter friend the Rock on his recent marriage. “Mahalo, my ballin’ friend,” the Rock responded.
The admiration is not one-sided: As producer Geet Jeswani noted on Twitter, in one of the first scenes of the season-five premiere, the Rock is seen lounging on the beach, reading Warren’s 2017 book This Fight Is Our Fight.
As I finished the last episode of Ballers season one, I took a moment to reflect — on whether I should get into football, whether I should move to Miami and stop wearing bras to parties, and why, besides the Rock, Elizabeth Warren loves this Entourage-adjacent show so much (both are produced by Mark Wahlberg). There’s no doubt it’s entertaining in the way that watching multimillionaires burning cash and behaving badly can be (see also: Billions, Succession). But perhaps another draw for Warren — who specialized for years in bankruptcy law and has proposed the creation of a Department of Economic Development — is that the stars of the show are ultimately the guys trying to get their clients to save and spend their money responsibly.
In the world of Ballers, when a high-profile NFL player gets into trouble, his first call is not to his PR people or his manager, it’s to his financial manager. A major plotline in the first season is about the Rock trying to get a young defensive tackle to stop blowing through all the millions he has earned in pricey NFL contracts so he can eventually retire and maybe start a children’s hospital in his hometown.
Sure, even the most financially responsible characters on Ballers spend money like it’s air, and yeah, most of them probably wouldn’t be huge fans of Warren’s wealth tax. But if you’re Elizabeth Warren and you’ve had a busy day of campaigning and pushing for the wealthiest people in this country to step up and do their part, I imagine it would be nice to get home, crack open a cold one, and watch the Rock flex his pecs in the faces of the megarich until they get in line. Then she can go to bed and pray to God to allow her to continue to “ball on these motherfuckers.”