RogerBW's Blog

Braindead 25 April 2017

2016 political science fiction, 13 episodes. Alien insects are taking over American politicians. This causes surprisingly little disruption.

"Nothing dates faster than satire", said someone whose details I can't now locate, and it's particularly true of this series: it's a perfect capstone to the world of pre-Trump procedural shenanigans and government shutdowns, but it all became obsolete just as soon as one party got a leader who was prepared simply to ignore the rules.

But before that… the point of the show, which is both where it works and where it fails, is the tension between satire and the serious dramatic story of an alien invasion by unconventional means. Sometimes, as in the earliest episodes, the two tensions blend well; sometimes they pull the thing apart, such as in the episode which is clearly set up to be The One About Torture, which is too satirical to work as drama and too dramatic to work as satire.

Still, the writing is snappy, direction doesn't get in the way of storytelling, and the cast do an excellent job. For all Mary Elizabeth Winstead seems to be trying too hard to channel her inner Aubrey Plaza, she manages to convince as Laurel Healy, a would-be documentary filmmaker working for her senator brother, and one of the first to find out about the bugs. Johnny Ray Gill shines as a man willing to believe anything if it aligns with his paranoia. Tony Shalhoub as one of the leaders of the infected is, if anything, too convincing.

I think the problem may be that the show's trying too hard to be balanced, to keep both Democrats and Republicans from being offended by the depictions of Their Party. Here's a dig at one side, so wait for it, there's a dig at the other. This ends up being anodyne rather than digging satirical teeth into the promising subject matter.

But if you don't mind weakness in the satire, the dramatic story is a good one, and the series as a whole is nearly as clever as it thinks it is. It didn't get renewed, but there is a conclusion.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

  1. Posted by Dr Bob at 12:34pm on 25 April 2017

    "This causes surprisingly little disruption." Thanks for that sentence - it made my day!

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1