With a title like “The Brink,” HBO’s new political comedy immediately sets itself up with a large challenge: It must remain on the precipice of World War 3 during its run without sliding back into a peaceful world.
It’s a challenge creators and brothers Roberto and Kim Benabib are ready to tackle. Season 1 tells intertwined stories of the various people who find themselves at the center of a geopolitical crisis in Pakistan, but that’s not going to be the only crisis the series deals with.
“The nature of the world today is there are multiple situations going on,” Roberto Benabib tells Zap2it. “Unfortunately there is no want for these sort of situations popping up not only concurrently, but one after the other. So we’re going to mirror that, and what happens in real life is what’s going to happen on our show. We’re going to tell the story at breakneck speed.”
The concept of “The Brink” came out of the Benabibs seeing a lack of large-scale comedies. This show can be described as “Dr. Strangelove” meets “M*A*S*H,” a type of storytelling and comedy they felt was missing in today’s TV environment. Clearly other people in Hollywood agreed, because Jay Roach and Jerry Weintraub came on as executive producers (and director, in Roach’s case), and an impressive ensemble cast joined the project.
There’s Jack Black as Alex Talbot, a foolish yet motivated Foreign Service officer at the Embassy of the United States in Islamabad who gets in way over his head, and Aasif Mandvi as Rafiq Massoud, a Pakistani U.S. Embassy employee who gets dragged down with him. Tim Robbins plays Walter Larson, the United States Secretary of State with a penchant for morbid sexual deviance, while Pablo Schreiber plays Zeke “Z-Pak” Tilson, a United States Naval Aviator who has a Xanax-hustling druggie’s worst nightmare during a pivotal scene. Carla Gugino, Jaimie Alexander, Maribeth Monroe, Mimi Kennedy, Geoff Pierson and Esai Morales also star.
“We’re blessed, and to be at HBO is amazing,” Benabib says. “The freedom we have, the resources we’re given; it’s a dream come true.”
The show will continue to explore different crises around the world with the same set of characters, and the plan to “blow up” the story in Season 1 to carry the series into Season 2 is already planned. Even if the show gets bigger and crazier, don’t expect it to fall off the brink.
“Perhaps the final episode of the final season of ‘The Brink.’ We’ll see. We’re not there yet. But it’s called ‘The Brink,’ not ‘The End,’ so that I think will inform us,” Benabib says. “You’ll see [the series], much as the world is right now, dancing up to the edge and hopefully not falling off.”