HBO Comedy ‘The Brink’ Sparks Fury in U.S. Ally Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — HBO comedy “The Brink" is following in the footsteps of "Homeland" by ruffling the feathers of viewers in Pakistan — those who can get their hands on it, anyway.

Featuring Tim Robbins as the U.S. Secretary of State and Jack Black as a bumbling foreign staffer, the one-season wonder was dropped last month after U.S. viewing figures dipped well below 1 million.

In Pakistan, "The Brink" sparked a similar backlash to that which greeted Showtime's award-winning "Homeland" last year — which critics alleged portrayed the country in a negative and one-dimensional way.

While "The Brink" offers a more comedic take on America's relationship with its South Asian ally, the program is still replete with stereotypes: military coups, corrupt generals, nuclear war and assassinated prime ministers.

In the capital Islamabad, sources at both a cable TV provider and a leading pirate DVD franchise told NBC News they have been "advised" by security officials not to air or sell copies of "The Brink."

"We have been advised to not run this, either in regular cable or in video on-demand services we offer," said one staff member at the Islamabad-based cable operator, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals.

Image: Walter Larson played by Tim Robbins
Walter Larson, played by Tim Robbins, in the HBO comedy "The Brink." HBO GO

There was no official notice from authorities saying not to air the comedy, according to the staff member, who said that intelligence services had given "just the usual signaling."

"Like we know we can’t show nudity, we know we can’t show anti-Pakistan programs," he said.

No local cable channels have aired the series, and the national state-run network does not show any American-made programs.

Pakistan's embassy in Washington accused the show of "maligning" Pakistan and said that it "reinforces stereotypes."

"This is also an affront to the people and institutions in both countries who have invested a lot over the decades in blood and treasure in building this important and mutually beneficial relationship," embassy press attache Nadeem Hotiana said in a statement.

Hotiana also slammed what he said was the show's "repeated insinuations that an intelligence agency of Pakistan is complicit in protecting the terrorists at the expense of innocent Pakistani civilians."

Not only has "The Brink" not been aired on Pakistani TV, it has also been suppressed at Illusions, Islamabad's largest vendor in the country's popular pirate DVD industry.

"'Homeland' was awful for Pakistan. 'The Brink' is funnier, but no better [for the country's image]," said one of Illusion's sales managers, who also didn't want to be named because of fears for his safety. "After Homeland, we were advised by 'the powers that be' to take it off the shelves. But we still stock [the show], though not on display."

Image: Claire Danes in "Homeland"
Claire Danes plays Carrie Mathison in "Homeland." Didier Baverel / Showtime via AP

The sales manager said it was the "same story with 'The Brink.' When we can't display something, how will it sell [it]?"

And it's not just the intelligence services that are not fans of the show. Pakistanis who have managed to watch it took to Twitter to decry what they say are inaccuracies with the sets — only the B-roll of the series appears to have been taped in Pakistan — as well as actors from arch-rival India playing Pakistani characters.

HBO didn't respond to NBC News' request for comment.