BrainDead – Mindless Summer Entertainment!

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I work in a school, and for me summer is a chance to recharge my spirit and let my brain relax. But this summer I have four books I am planning to read, with only one of them being a “fun” read. Unfortunately, even the fun book will not be purely for pleasure, since I am tasked with leading a discussion group with thirty students come fall. Of course that means planning ahead and careful reading. The other three books are all heavy, somber reading. My point in telling you this is to say that my summer is not going to be fun and games!

Consequently, I am looking for TV entertainment that is not all doom and gloom, and not very mentally taxing. Thankfully this summer there are some shows that fulfill my needs quite well! One of those shows is BrainDead, on CBS. After watching the first two episodes, I have concluded that BrainDead is just plain delicious, silly fun!

Spoiler alert – I will be discussing the first two episodes of BrainDead, so if you have not seen them and are adverse to spoilers, you might want to come back after you have seen them!

Poking Fun at Congress and Politicians

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I live in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and have lived through more than one government shutdown, so I completely understand how the rhythm of our lives is affected by what goes on in the halls of government. But, come on, who does not love to poke fun at our government? If we did not poke fun, well, we would probably be in tears all the time over the just plain inexplicable antics we see every day. Our government and politicians are definitely fair game for parody, satire and even just plain reality, because we all know that truth is stranger than fiction!

BrainDead is set in Congress, so we are treated to the stereotypical wheeling, dealing, and backstabbing behavior of our elected representatives. And those behaviors are featured in all their glory: the extra-marital affairs, the back room meetings, the partying, the excessive alcohol consumption. All politician tropes are in full force on this show. To be fair, no one escapes – this is equal opportunity lampooning.

Of course you then need other tropes to balance the program. So, you have the political outsiders forced to work in the system, the crazy constituents trying to deliver, in one case, a chocolate statue of a dog, and the heart-warming young cancer patient who is helped by the tender hearted Congressional aide.

Musical Recaps

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Only two episodes have aired, but at the beginning of the second episode, they did the “previously on” recap we are so accustomed to as a folk song, and this will continue for the rest of the run of the season! Now that is unique and lots of enticing fun, right? What I also love is that it fits in quite well with the fact the “affected” seem to all like the Cars’ 1984 song, “You Might Think.” In fact, that is a clue for the viewer as well as some of the main characters that a person has been possessed!

Alien Invasion

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Who does not like a good alien invasion story? Now, there are really on a handful of basic types of invasions. One type is the “in your face, annihilate all humans” model that we saw in Falling Skies. Another is the more subtle “take us over by some means while we sleep” variety which in this case means a bug infestation in our brains.

I know, that sounds gross. And, the idea of bugs in my brain has given me the heebie-jeebies since I saw it happen to Chekov in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. But in BrainDead, it is all part of the insanity as heads explode or expel brain parts onto pillows.

Then there is the excitement of worrying about who will be infected next. There have to be enough key people left unaffected to keep hope alive, but the constant threat of “who will be next?” enhances the drama! Those of you that have seen both Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies (1956, 1978), which had very different endings, have some inkling of what I am talking about.

Perfect Timing

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The creators of this series have timed this program perfectly. Being in the midst of a heated political campaign season makes it easy to draw from real life for sound bites. In addition, they also make good use of other recent headlines to create what actually is a quite plausible origin story for the invasion!

Of course, we do not know the agenda of the aliens, so I supposed it is not possible to know if their intent is evil or benign, but come one, they are eating our brains! I’m sorry, but that is just not in our best interests.


Have you been watching BrainDead? What do you think of it? Will you continue to watch it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!