NEW YORK — On a recent afternoon in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, everyone was talking about bugs. Not the skittering cockroaches one would expect to see in this industrial corner of the borough, but something more extraordinary: brain-eating insects from outer space.

In “BrainDead,” a genre-bending political satire filming on a sound stage standing in for Washington, D.C., a swarm of voracious insects descends upon the capital. The mysterious ant-like creatures devour the brains of lawmakers and citizens alike, turning them into partisan zombies. (And, yes, it’s a work of fiction.)

In character as Laurel Healy, a Capitol Hill staffer, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is confronting her controlling father, Dean (Zach Grenier), a political patriarch reminiscent of Joseph Kennedy, about the rapidly spreading epidemic. Unlike his daughter, Dean is not concerned by the insect-borne plague.

“You’re not going to convince me this is a good thing,” she says.

“Then let me convince you it’s inevitable,” he replies, ominously.

“BrainDead,” which premiered earlier this month on CBS, is a summer series with politics on its mind. Arriving just as an already surreal presidential election begins to heat up, the pilot opens with clips of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail and text reading, “In the year 2016 there was a growing sense that people were losing their mind.”

The idea for “BrainDead” was spawned during the federal government’s shutdown three years ago when, like millions of other Americans, series creators Robert and Michelle King found themselves wondering just how Washington, D.C., had become so dysfunctional.

“There was so much going on in D.C. that was absolutely inexplicable that we needed to create a narrative to explain it,” said Michelle King. Space bugs seemed no more absurd than reality – that the job of governing had turned into a zero-sum competition between Democrats and Republicans.

With a tone the Kings describe as “Roger Corman meets Paddy Chayefsky,” “BrainDead” blends satire with screwball comedy and B-movie sci-fi. While it’s zanier than other current political dramas, like “House of Cards,” it still has a serious point to make.

“The left and the right wings are being pushed to extremes,” said Robert King. “There’s the Bernie Bros on one end and the tea partiers on the other end. The moderates are kind of disappearing. That’s what the show is really coming out against, this loss of the moderate middle.”

The series follows Laurel, who’s rejected the family business of politics to pursue a career making documentaries about obscure subjects (clog-dancing, religious music in the Solomon Islands).

To fund her latest unfinished project, she accepts a bribe from her father and goes to work for her playboy brother, Luke (Danny Pino), who’s carrying on the political dynasty as a Democratic senator and majority whip.

Luke needs all the help he can get, as a budget stalemate threatens to shut down the government. Laurel negotiates flirtatiously with Gareth Ritter (Aaron Tveit), legislative director for Sen. Red Wheatus (Tony Shalhoub), a mildly corrupt Republican. Tipped off by a constituent, Laurel embarks on an investigation that eventually leads to the discovery of the brain-eating creepy-crawlies.

“BrainDead’s” topical focus will be familiar to fans of the Kings’ legal drama, “The Good Wife,” which ended its acclaimed seven-season run on CBS in May. The series was inspired by a number of real-life political sex scandals and often weighed in on current events, from NSA surveillance to protests in Ferguson, Mo. There are also obvious similarities between Laurel and Alicia Florrick, the disgraced spouse turned cunning lawyer played by Julianna Margulies in “The Good Wife.”

“They both live in the same universe of a pragmatic female lead who’s underestimated by a lot of people around her,” said Robert King, who was impressed by Winstead’s Margulies-like ability to balance comedy and drama.

“BrainDead” even uses much of “The Good Wife’s” production infrastructure, including the same sound stage and certain key crew members.

Still, the foray into genre storytelling represents a bold move for the Kings.

“I love that they chose to do something so risky and weird as their next project,” said Winstead, who is juggling her role on “BrainDead” with duties on the PBS Civil War drama “Mercy Street.” “You need that in TV right now. Unless it’s a swing for the fences, there’s not much point in doing it.”

“BrainDead” is almost certainly the only show on broadcast TV that relies on what its creators describe as a “Jonathan Swiftian metaphor,” or that has episode titles worthy of a dissertation. (The pilot is called “The Insanity Principle: How Extremism in Politics Is Threatening Democracy in the 21st Century.”)

The series is also making a provocative argument about contemporary politics. Not only is it saying that the country has become very polarized but that ideological purity, not corruption, is what ails Washington.

“We think everybody’s going after the wrong thing,” said Robert King.

“Idealism keeps people from actually talking to each other and compromising. The brilliance of the American government should be that it encourages people to compromise, and that’s the only way things get done.”

Their perspective was forged during research trips to Washington, D.C., where they consulted with Judy Smith, the fixer who inspired “Scandal,” and David McCallum, deputy chief of staff for Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.

With such ambitious themes, “BrainDead” might seem out of place in the summer, traditionally a time when pop culture goes for spectacle over substance. But with its sci-fi trappings and occasional bursts of gore, the show fits in comfortably at summertime CBS, which in recent seasons has turned to shorter-run genre series such as “Under the Dome,” “Extant” and “Zoo.”

For the Kings, exhausted after churning out 22 episodes of “The Good Wife” every season, a shorter run was not just appealing but also essential.

Unfortunately, it happened that production on “The Good Wife” overlapped with that of “BrainDead.” “So instead of going to 13 episodes this year, we went to 35,” joked Michelle King.

For cast and creators alike, the biggest challenge has been nailing the tone, which swings from comedy to drama to thriller within a single scene.

And as Shalhoub observed, it can be tricky to parody a political era that already seems farcical: “I keep thinking we’re starting to swing over into absurdist mode. Then I went to see ‘Weiner'” – the documentary about former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s doomed New York mayoral run – “and I started to think, ‘Wow, maybe our show is not as wild I had imagined.'”