Is 'The Brink' A True Story? The HBO Show Draws From Real Events While Keeping It Comical

HBO's newest comedy block is taking a dark turn towards World War III with The Brink, which, on June 21, will take the place of the recently concluded Veep. And, since it's about a conflict between Washington, DC and Pakistan, it begs the question: Is The Brink based on a true story? Not exactly. Like Veep, The Brink also follows the American government, but this time as they attempt to resolve conflict in Pakistan. But, considering this is a comedy, there is still a surprising amount of truth to be found in The Brink, especially considering how extreme the conditions are in the series.

In an article in Vanity Fair, the creator of The Brink, Roberto Benabib describes the show's inspirations, and how it's not much of an exaggeration. "[The Brink] might be heightened comically, but it’s very real. The situation in Pakistan is the Pentagon’s worst nightmare, and they are gaming it out," Benabib says. Of course, in real life the characters aren't quite as bumbling, stupid, and profane as the ones created for the purposes of the show, or at least don't have the comedic timing of stars Tim Robbins, Jack Black, Pablo Schrieber, and Aasif Mandvi.

Benabib then went on to name-check some other satires to Vanity Fair that provided much of their inspiration for the upcoming season. Some have been mentioned specifically, others just seem like obvious influences based on the content of the series.

Dr. Strangelove

Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece about the rise of nuclear war was credited by the Benibab as a "macro" comedy and an inspiration because it looks to a global scale to find its conflict. It also covers a possible WWIII brought on by mass corruption and incompetence of powerful men making impulsive, selfish decisions.


It makes sense that HBO would want another political comedy after Armando Iannucci's Veep has become such a hit with both TV critics and people in Washington — at least according to this "Washington insider" who ranked it as the most accurate, and the best show about American politics.

In The Loop

Also written by Armando Iannucci, as a spinoff of his British series The Thick of It , this film shows how a simple mistake can lead to another global conflict that spans across continents and leads several countries into a tailspin, declaring, undeclaring, and justifying a war that's really all just meaningless.

Four Lions

This comedy about a group of incompetent terrorists hasn't been cited as an overt influence for The Brink, but the way it manages to satirize the other side of the war on terror proves that it is possible to find humor in extremism just as easily as it is to find it in bureaucratic inefficiency.

Team America: World Police

Movieclips on YouTube

The inspiration here is pretty slight, and never mentioned by Benabib or anyone else working on The Brink as an influence, but this film was one of the first to insinuate that America's presence abroad maybe wasn't all good, especially when it comes to fighting terrorism. I do predict The Brink will have less puppet humor than Team America, but it might have a few similar themes.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart & The Colbert Report

They both functioned as sharp political satirists who took contemporary news and found a new angle on it four nights a week. Just think of their collaborative Super PAC saga. They had the versatility to attack stories of all kinds and make them hilarious, which The Brink will need to do if it's going to last past its first season.

Image: Merie W. Wallace, Patrick Harbron/HBO; Giphy (4)