BrainDead is a science-fiction comedy with a dash of political satire premiering on CBS tonight at 10 PM EST. “Think of it like Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets The West Wing,” said actor Tony Shalhoub who plays Senator Red Wheatus one of the ‘infected’. Although the show does have some gross-out moments, overall it’s an intriguing look into American politics with a touch of humor and intrigue. “It’s so different and risky and out there for Michelle and Robert (The Kings created The Good Wife). But makes it exciting to work with them.”
BrainDead centers around a conspiracy that many members of Congress have been infected with a mind controlling ‘bug’. Democratic Staffer Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) lets her intuition be her guide as she follows the trails to uncover what is causing this strange behavior, not just from politicians but regular citizens too. Laurel teams up with an unlikely partner in Republican Gareth Ritter (Aaron Tviet). Winstead and Tviet have a palpable chemistry that translates just as well off screen as it does on. There is a real kinship between the two actors which explains how seamlessly they maneuver around quick and sharp dialogue. “There is something very Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant about them a la His Girl Friday,” Tviet jokes. Their characters represent the best that both parties have to offer both literally and figuratively, in hope and idealism. “Our characters are bonded over mutual hatred but are also able to have reasonable conversations about big issues,” Winstead adds.
In our current political climate where everyone is tearing each other down, we have two people from across the aisle really trying to help and make a difference together, pretty refreshing. For a show that is more left, it does an amazing job of humanizing Gareth Ritter and portraying him as one of the most moral people in the world they’ve conjured. “The show isn’t necessarily a political statement from a liberal creative world against conservatives, it’s showing how extremism can polarize the country,” Tviet speaks fondly of his Chief of Staff character as a political figure who in himself is a throwback as well. “He’s a Republican who doesn’t exist anymore. He’s very idealistic, he’s very old school. His favorite President would’ve been Teddy Roosevelt.”
For Winstead, Laurel brings her own positives and is allowing the actress to stretch all her talented muscles, “This show really brings everything together, it’s like every genre in one which for me is so much fun. I think anytime as an actor when you get to be funny, heartfelt, and action-oriented….there’s so many different things to experience and express. That’s what I’m always looking for.”
Tviet speaks to all those genres and enjoying his new role in the strange world of politics and conspiracy theories. “I think the nice thing about conspiracy in any genre…there’s constantly something to strive for especially in a TV series where you need a story to play out and sustain over a season or multiple seasons and I think this show is doing that. And the longer you can play up those conspiratorial ideas it’s better for the audience.” CBS is taking a big leap and a chance on a show that could just not connect with an audience but there is enough here to grab you. Tviet adds, “The network is branching out on something that’s a bit off center. It’s really exciting to be a part of that.”
BrainDead is bringing forth a new perspective on politics that I hope is able to have a long run, especially given how insane this current presidential race has been. They’ve done an amazing job of showing both sides rationally and how we can actually unite for the greater good. I’m glad they have found a home with CBS.