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Check out Richard Shelby’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo on new CBS political drama

Senator Richard Shelby's name as it appeared on CBS's BrainDead

Senator Richard Shelby’s name as it appeared on CBS’s BrainDead


U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) had a background name drop in the first episode of CBS’s new summer political/sci-fi drama, “BrainDead.”

In the final minutes of the first episode, a closed door can be seen in the background with a name card for “Senator Richard Shelby – Alabama” on the wall. Shelby is never mentioned by name or appears on screen, but the appearance of his name helps ground the show in a pseudo-reality.

BrainDead” is almost purely satire, but it puts real politics and politicians in the foreground as much as possible. The premier featured a number of television and audio clips from Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. The main characters on the show are completely fictional, but the audience is supposed to believe that they exist alongside real politicians like Senator Shelby.

The new series from Robert and Michelle King (creators of “The Good Wife”) stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”), Danny Pino (“Scandal,” “Law & Order: SVU”), Aaron Tveit (“Graceland,” “Grease: Live!”), and Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”).

BrainDead brings a different spin to the growing genre of television political dramas. The catalyst for the show’s central plot is a meteor that crashed down to the earth that released thousands of ant-like extraterrestrials that crawled straight into the brains of congressmen and other D.C. elites. The creatures alter their hosts’ brains and personalities, turning them into hyper-focused, robotic politicians. The remaining characters have to figure out what’s going on.

The balance between the science fiction aspect and real politics is designed to make viewers feel strangely uncomfortable. The central plot of the first episode involves a government shutdown after Republicans and Democrats fail to reach a compromise. Sound familiar? At the same time, the fantastic elements allow viewers to distance themselves from reality.

“I think it’s a bit of escapism. Anything that’s kind of heightened or larger than life can be a way to kind of look at what’s actually happening and laugh at it,” Tveit said in an interview with E! News. “And just separate yourself from it. That’s what’s great about these summer series, to just go on this little ride and see how it goes. With this, the reality is so kind of tough and depressing that if you can find anyway to laugh at it is good, so hopefully people can use this to laugh at it.”

The show is neither pro-Republican nor pro-Democrat, but in the current state of real politics, BrainDead hopes to give viewers a way to release the tension they may be feeling.

Who knows; maybe some other Alabama politicians will make appearances as the show unfolds.