Antlike aliens. No horrifying Alien-like extraterrestrial beings or truly disgusting Doctor Who aliens (and sorry, no flying sharks). Teensy, seemingly harmless ants from a meteorite that landed in Russia are what is supposed to bring down all of Washington in The Good Wife creators’ new show BrainDead.
These parasites take hold of unsuspecting politicians by crawling into people’s ears and either eating away the brain or, as with Tony Shalhoub‘s character Senator Red Wheatus, discarding the brain via the ear canal (it’s a slimy, gross mess, as expected). People’s brains can even explode, spaghetti-Western-style.
The lucky politicians who don’t end up with literal exploding heads end up with stronger partisan feelings, finally explaining the age-old question: “Why can no one in DC can get anything done?” (Viewers may laugh, and they will also find themselves humming the Cars’ 1984 song “You Might Think”).
All of this takes place during a hellish government shutdown, and Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is caught in the hellfire. Laurel is a filmmaker who finds herself working on staff for her brother, Senator Luke Healy (Danny Pino). She’s also the first to notice the increasingly odd behavior (at least odd to those outside of DC) among Washington’s politicos. She becomes sure that something is wrong after a Smithsonian scientist who has been studying the alien-infested meteorite suffers an exploding head.
Throughout the political drama/sci-fi investigation narrative, the show sprinkles in all the other easy DC jokes–“This is Hollywood, but for ugly people”–which would be funny if we hadn’t heard it all before. But aside from the cheap shots, the whole idea of aliens possessing politicians, including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as an explainer for all of the dysfunctional happenings in Washington is a light-hearted and fun way of handling the political firestorms that are happening in real life. It’s refreshing to laugh at the political issues of late, to mask them with campy humor, and at the end of the day, not take things so seriously.
“BrainDead” airs on Mondays at 10/9c on CBS.