Posted in Arts, Top Arts

BrainDead puts a funny sci-fi twist on American politics

The light-hearted satire advocates for moderation from both the left and right

Aspiring documentarian Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) gets mixed up with mind-controlling space ants in BrainDead.
Aspiring documentarian Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) gets mixed up with mind-controlling space ants in BrainDead.
Image Credits: CBS

Politics in the United States have been rather extreme lately, and it is because mind-controlling space ants have eaten the brains of members of Congress. At least according to BrainDead, a show which premiered in mid-June of this year.

BrainDead, a political science fiction horror dramedy created by Robert and Michelle King (The Good Wife), follows Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an aspiring documentarian, forced to work for her brother, Democratic Senator Luke (Danny Pino) in Washington, D.C. to fund her film. The show also follows Republican Senator Raymond “Red” Wheatus (Tony Shalhoub), who is initially incompetent but, after being infested by the space bugs, is focused, driven, and serves as the primary antagonist from then on.

Things grow even more complicated when Laurel begins a relationship with Gareth Ritter (Aaron Tveit), Red’s chief of staff. The characters also include Rochelle Daudier (Nikki M. James) and Gustav Triplett (Johnny Ray Gill), two scientists investigating the string of head explosions caused by the space bugs.

The show is, at its heart, optimistic. It criticizes extremism on both sides, advocating bipartisanship and cooperation. Both party heads are depicted as satirically extreme after being infested with the bugs: Red is constantly calling for war and encouraging citizens to take up arms, while his Democratic counterpart is shown as caring more for the welfare of cute animals than people.

BrainDead is able to maintain a light-hearted tone despite its horrifying subject matter of politics and insect invasions. Yes, there are brain explosions and paranoia, not to mention the threat of a costly and unnecessary war, but the space bugs also seem to all really enjoy listening to “You Might Think” by the Cars, and every episode begins with a musical recap sung by singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton.

The show’s relevance, in addition to its frequent use of clips, quotes, and homages to the current American election make BrainDead one of the best political satires on television today.

BrainDead airs its season finale on September 11, on Global TV and GlobalTV.com

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