Braindead: The Impossible Parody

Frame from Braindead

American politicians have lost their minds. That’s what Baindead, the new summer proposal from The Good Wife‘s creators, seems to be telling us in a very literal way. Despite defining itself as a “comic thriller”, the show combines sci-fy, comedy, politics and the ever-present dose of romance. All together, a mishmash that, even without making that much sense, keeps the viewer entertained at all times.

Braindead introduces us to Laurel Healey (Mary Elisbeth Winstead), a documentary filmmaker who accepts a 6-month gig helping her brother, Democrat senator Luke Healey (Danny Pino). As she arrives to the Capitol, she realizes something isn’t right. Alien ants are slipping into and eating the brains of those who are related, in one way or another, to politics. Some, lose half their brain and radicalize their political positions. Others just die as their heads explode. Wait, isn’t this enough? Then add a way-too-close relationship between Laurel and the Republican Chief of Staff, Garreth (Aaron Tveit).

Just like that, we enter a world, Braindead‘s, where everyone is suspicious of having a partly -if not fully- dead brain. In a moment where American politics are in the spotlight, the show seems to defend that any political affiliation is stupid and doesn’t make any sense, while showing that there’s not that much difference between Republicans and Democrats. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are constantly seen on screen, their names are mentioned and their speeches become the soundtrack -or rather background noise- of most of the scenes.

All this brings us to the question: Would Braindead work in any other cultural context? Surprisingly, the lack of knowledge and expectations about Washington’s ruling in the rest of the world makes it less risky for Braindead to work in Europe than in the United States. Also helpful is the presence of well-known actors such as Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Mercy Street), Danny Pino (Cold Case) and Aaron Tveit (Graceland), who perfectly understand what’s asked from them and leave the show in a better place than it deserves.

Actor Aaron Tveit stated that “The insanity principle is basically looking at the entire political backdrop of our political system, I think. That’s what it’s talking about, that everyone seems insane.” After watching ‘Braindead’, all we can ask is: Is it possible to caricature American politics and politicians when they seem to be a parody themselves?