BrainDead: Meet the D.C. Operators Who Might Have Bugs Eating Their Brains

Ileane Rudolph
BrainDead

Jeff Neumann/CBS

What do you get when you mix congressional deadlock with an invasion of brain-eating bugs? A political satire, of course! The Good Wife executive producers Robert and Michelle King promise Invasion of the Body Snatchers elements in their new CBS sci-fi comedy BrainDead.

“There is not a weirder or more terrifying time to be interested in politics,” the creators explain. “Looniness has reached full flower. Everyone thinks they’re right because they’re surrounded by other people who think exactly like them.” Meet some of the BrainDead characters dedicated to preserving—and destroying—the U.S. government.

BrianDead, Series Premiere, Monday, June 13, 10/9c, CBS.

Michael Parmelee/CBS

Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)

Who she is
Laurel tried to escape politics, until her family pulled her back in to work for her brother, a Democratic senator.

How the invasion affects her
“She becomes increasingly aware that something strange is happening in D.C., but initially not sure what,” Winstead says.

Her goal
To team up with people who clue her in to what may be going on. “She’s looking for the truth—and to ultimately stop the infestation,” Winstead says.

Her allies
Rochelle, a young doctor, and Gustav, a scientist and conspiracy theorist. “They each have their own ideas as to [how the epidemic spreads].”

Her enemy
Gareth Ritter—sort of. They’re “political adversaries but personal allies,” Winstead says.

Michael Parmelee/CBS

Gateth Ritter (Aaron Tveit)

Who he is
Aide to loose cannon Sen. Red Wheatus. Tveit says Gareth is “a smart up-and-comer” and a believer in GOP ideals. Add the Kings: “He’s a Republican in the P.J. O’Rourke vein who loves sparring with the other side.”

How the invasion affects him
Unlike with many on the Hill, the brain-eating bugs have passed him by.

His goal
“He’s trying to do the best he can under added pressure,” Tveit says.

His allies
Gareth crosses party lines to work with the uninfected, who are still moderate in their views.

His enemy
“The political fanaticism that is growing around him,” Tveit says. Plus, no one in Congress seems to have use for his boss’s formerly centrist agenda.

Michael Parmelee/CBS

Dr. Rochelle Daudier (Nikki M. James)

Who she is
A medical resident at a D.C. hospital.

How the invasion affects her
“Her father is the first known victim of a possible infection-related death,” says the Tony winner (The Book of Mormon) and former Good Wife player. The young doctor wasn’t with him at the time, leading her to be “suspicious of the events surrounding his passing.”

Her goal
“She wants to learn what really killed her father and the other people suddenly dying in D.C.,” the actress says.

Her allies
Laurel and Gustav. “They’re determined to get to the bottom of [the origins of this epidemic].”

Her enemy
“Any bug person—we have different goals,” James says.

Michael Parmelee/CBS

Sen. Luke Healy (Danny Pino)

Who he is
“He’s confident and powerful and in the middle of a budget fight that could shut down government,” Pino says.

How the invasion affects him
“His level of confusion, frustration, defensiveness and resourcefulness increases along with the level of extremism, irrationality and vitriol” on Capitol Hill.

His goal
Still in the dark about the invasion, “Luke rationalizes the extreme behavior as a rising tide of partisanship and obstructionism throughout D.C. He wants to maintain his position as majority whip, get the government working again—and embarrass Republicans.”

His allies
Many, including sis Laurel and Sen. Ella Pollack (Jan Maxwell).

His enemy
As the infection spreads and can no longer be denied, Senator Wheatus becomes Luke’s nemesis.

Michael Parmelee/CBS

Gustev Triplett (Johnny Ray Gill)

Who he is
A conspiracy buff. But to Gill, “He’s a critical thinker in an era where learning has no cool. It’s been devalued to keep the power structure free to prey on the uneducated and undiscerning.”

How the invasion affects him
“He’s the first in D.C. to recognize that something sinister is attacking the capital,” the actor says.

His goal
“Gustav is in hot pursuit of the truth, first and foremost because he cares so deeply about his friends, but also because it could lead him to arguably the greatest scientific discovery known to man,” Gill says.

His allies
Laurel and Rochelle. “He has their back, side and front.”

His enemy
“Anything trying to take over…or some as-of-yet classified bug that might make a meal of your brains.”

Michael Parmelee/CBS

Sen. Red Wheatus (Tony Shalhoub)

Who he is
“A jaded Republican senator from Maryland who drinks heavily, chases women and gravitates toward the moderate path of least resistance—pre-infection,” says Shalhoub (Monk).

How the invasion affects him
Shalhoub says, “A bug ate the part of his brain that’s holding him back from realizing his full potential.” Which seems to be as a power-hungry political fanatic.

His goal
“He sees what’s happening to him [as a new infectee] as a blessing! It’s given him clarity and revitalized him,” the actor explains.

His allies
His trusted adviser Gareth and the bugs … so far.

His enemies
“The Democrats, especially the Healy family,” Shalhoub says. “Plus, everyone else in D.C. who attempts to maintain the [political] status quo.”

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