TV Review: “BrainDead” – Confused

Written by Danielle Sing July 20, 2016

960CBS’s latest series “BrainDead” is a science-fiction comedic political thriller. Sound confusing? Well, the show sure as hell is. Though it can be seen as an interesting take on the crazy political scene in the US right now, it’s moreso a bad re-hash of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” with a political agenda.

Documentary filmmaker Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) starts a new job as a staffer for her brother, Democratic Senator Luke Healy (Danny Pino), who is in the middle of a government shut down due to an unresolved federal budget. On the other side of the spectrum, Republic Senator Raymond Wheatus (Tony Shalhoub) and his newly appointed chief-of-staff, Gareth (Aaron Tveit), are finding new ways to block any Democratic deals. They are successful with the help of some ant-like aliens who burrow into people’s brains and want to run America into political ruin. Why? I have no idea, but conspiracy theorist Gustav (Johnny Ray Gill) has a few and he reaches out to Laurel for help.

“If by right wing you mean we’re right, then yes!”

Let’s breakdown this complicated genre that “BrainDead” sets itself into, because the lack of success is the main source of confusion for this show. Science-fiction is shown in the ant-like aliens that take over people’s brains. While the theme of alien invasion is very common in science-fiction, “BrainDead” plays too close to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” with the idea that they act similar to their normal selves. Comedy, there is none. Some situations are vaguely funny in a strange sort of way, but “BrainDead” is not a comedy. This is unfortunate as comedy and politics usually produces good satire. The politics is the only successful part of this show as you get an inside view of senators going after one another, including ones in the same party. Lastly, there does not seem to be enough stakes for it to be a proper thriller. Too many characters are blatantly unaware of the situation to even understand they’re at risk. This convoluted genre-hopping is too much, and it feels like several different incomplete shows combined together – badly. “BrainDead” does not seem to know what kind of show it wants to be.

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To continue on the lack luster thriller element of “BrainDead”, the reason there seems to be nothing at risk is because there seems to be no endgame to be afraid of. The reason for these aliens to control people is so far unknown, thus the audience does not feel suspense or fear for the characters unaware of the situation. “BrainDead” does hint at who has been victim to the invasion by the use of The Cars song ‘You Might Think’. While this seems like a unique way to inform the audience, the characters are also hearing the song. It’s not just clever hint or an inside joke for the audience, thus the overplay of the song becomes quite annoying. At the moment the aliens are currently enhancing people’s political opinions. “BrainDead” does not have a political agenda in the sense of rooting for a specific party. It aims to point out that American democracy is broken. This is why the politics of “BrainDead” is good, it shows the insanity of Washington without blatantly favouring a specific party.

“So, we’re famous. It’s like Hollywood, but with uglier people. Get used to it.”

Overall, “BrainDead” is a series confused by its own genre., and doesn’t represent any of the ones it tries to embody, and that is the ultimate downfall of the show. Though the politics is good, there’s no endgame and a just slow-pace, lacking suspense. This all leads “BrainDead” to be less than entertaining. Worst of all, it will make you hate The Cars.

My Rating: 4/10

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