TV Show Review: HBO’s The Brink


As a longtime observer of the US-India-Pakistan triangle, I was intrigued when HBO released a new show this summer about… the US-India-Pakistan triangle.  Despite the importance of this combustible, nuclear trigger alert three way relationship for the rest of the world, this is a novel concept in television, and even more so for it to be a comedy.  Think of it as 24 or Homeland, but a funny version.  When I saw the trailers for The Brink (such as the below), featuring great actors such as Tim Robbins, Jack Black, and Aasif Mandvi, I was ready to check this out.

The fodder, based loosely on reality is all there: American State Department officials who are more interested in embassy cocktail parties than learning about the country they are living in; locals and Americans making fun of each other; coups, counter-coups and other palace intrigues in Pakistan; whining Indian government officials; and big swinging dicks in Washington trying to one-up each other.  Similar to real politics and diplomacy, the principals somehow bumble through deadly serious situations.

I’ve made it through Episode 4, and I will definitely keep watching.  Jack Black is great as a US government lackey who wanders into a major international incident.  Pablo Schreiber does a great job of playing a playboy, drug dealing carrier pilot with massive personal problems.  And Tim Robbins plays a US Secretary Secretary of State who is just as concerned with where the next whiskey or female conquest will come from as he is with preventing a nuclear war.

The actors playing Pakistani and Indian characters are funny and pretty authentic.  The women are mostly hot, and several are overtly sexual as well, so that part is (un)covered, for the men.

Unfortunately, the rich subject matter and strong plot line is undermined by overly simplistic interactions between the characters and over the top scenes that couldn’t possibly happen in real life.  The show is saved by extraordinary acting, and several surprises as you go along that make the ride worth it.

The show reminds me of The Interview, a movie that indeed created a real international incident.  Excellent plot, good acting, some tense action, but an over-reliance on slapstick humor and gross violence.

I hope it gets better as the episodes go along.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor.

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