Warning: Spoilers ahead.
This summer has seen a lot of great shows premiere and others return for a new season, ranging from the sci-fi/horror hit Stranger Things to the political crime thriller Mr. Robot. But the best show that isn't getting the proper attention is CBS' political sci-fi comedy BrainDead. Here's a look at the series:
The series about alien bugs infecting members of Congress has really been struggling is the ratings in its freshman season, despite positive reviews from both critics and audiences, maintaining a 63% approval rating from critics and an 88% approval rating from audiences on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.
The show's future is still up in the air as the first season draws closer to the finale, with CBS's network chief Glenn Geller announcing at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour that they've made no decision yet, according to the TCA's Twitter page.
BrainDead has a lot of things going for it, and is truly this summer's most underrated new show. Let's take a minute to examine why this show deserves more fans and another season.
The Bizarre Combo Of Science Fiction And Political Satire
Political satire has always been a fascinating genre to watch, seeing subtle comedy come from the real-life scenarios Americans see in our government. The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Last Week Tonight really helped to reinvigorate this genre, but BrainDead puts it at an all-time high.
Seeing the infected Congress members start taking a huge interest in the issues is really quite funny and brilliant, as even though it's supposed to be a satire of the real Congress' lack of initiative in getting things done, it still results in stalemates and postponements, just like the real thing.
The Ensemble Cast
While Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, 10 Cloverfield Lane) is the most recognizable member of the cast, but the rest of the main performers are all pretty big names as well. Danny Pino previously worked for CBS for seven years on the crime drama Cold Case, Tony Shaloub is most recognizable for his eccentric private detective role of Monk, Aaron Tveit is most known for starring in Fox's live adaptation of Grease, Nikki M. James is more notable for her theater work in plays including Les Miserables and The Book of Mormon and Johnny Ray Gill landing another big role after having recurring appearances in Sundance's Rectify and WGN's Underground.
Not only does the show feature a great ensemble cast, but they all play their roles so well — particularly Winstead and Gill. Winstead has always done a phenomenal job of playing the female heroine who can get to the bottom of a mystery, and her character in BrainDead is no exception. She shows a real strength in her performance as Laurel Healy, a documentary filmmaker who comes to DC to work for her democratic senator brother in order to secure funding for her next documentary.
Winstead makes Laurel well-rounded, fighting the alien bugs and fighting her brothers' political enemies all at once, as well as showing her dedication to her documentary craft. In addition, she brings her own charm to Laurel, both in rolling with the strangely comedic happenings and in her awkward struggling to flirt with Tveit's character Gareth, that audiences really connect with her and truly want to root for Laurel.
But, in my opinion, Gill is the true star of the show, portraying eccentric and paranoid Gustav Triplett. Gustav's profession is never truly made clear in the series, but he is intelligent enough to fill out multiple jobs, thanks to his habit of "reading a lot." Gill knows how to capture Gustav's zany personality and paranoia-driven behavior to perfection, ranging from his behavior as a know-it-all to the various methods he comes up with to detect the aliens, including a modified iPhone that picks up high frequencies that the bugs emit to communicate with one another. Gill really brings a great energy and personality to the screen that you can't help but get engrossed every time he's on camera.
The Quirky Events
The plot alone has elements of quirk in it, but the episodes themselves all have some of the funniest and strangest things seen in a show. Not only do ant-sized alien bugs inhabit people, but if the person tries too hard to fight them off, their head explodes. And it's not just a small burst, it's quite the spectacle.
In addition to the critical head injuries, one of the most effective methods of checking for infection is to play the 1980s pop hit "You Might Think" by The Cars. Plus, practically everything Gustav does is the definition of quirky. In order to catch a bug for study, Gustav set up bug traps over his entire apartment and taped two plastic cups over his ears.
Every show that has major story arcs connecting through the whole season starts off with some form of a "previously on" recap in order to catch viewers up in case they forgot something or need to be reminded of older subject matter from a previous season. BrainDead, however, has the most intelligent and funniest recaps ever.
Singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton opens every episode up with a catchy, fast-paced folksy recap of the previous episode's events that highlights humor from previous episodes and even adds to the political satire of its own. Here's the recap for Sunday, August 21's episode:
What are your thoughts on BrainDead? Do you think it should get a second season? Let us know in the comments below!