The Mayor (ABC, Tuesdays, 9:30/8:30C) is a show about a naïve outsider, a talented but unknown rapper, who runs for public office in order to promote his album – and wins!
His strategy? To say outrageous stuff and call bull$#! when the incumbent lapses into political bafflegab.
Courtney Rose (Brandon Michael Hall, Search Party) is a struggling rapper who hits on a unique way to promote his music – he decides to run for mayor of his hometown, Fort Grey. His buddies – Jermaine Hardaway (Bernard David Jones, CollegeHumor Originals, Shi++y Boyfriends) and T.K Carter (Marcel Spears) – help him with his campaign.
His down-to-earth responses to incumbent Ed Gunt’s (David Spade, rules of Engagement, Roadies) usual political bafflegab earn him a standing ovation and he wins with 52% of the vote.
Now, unfortunately, he has to get to work. Fortunately, his mom, Dina Rose (Yvette Nicole Brown, Community) is there to help him keep his head on straight and deal with the consequences of his actions – and his new responsibilities.
Gunt’s campaign manager, Valentina Barella (Lea Michele, Glee), goes from ‘Courtney Rose is a know-nothing egomaniac whose entire campaign is a stunt. Voters won’t fall for that – not in America!’ to switching sides and offering to be Courtney’s chief of staff. (Full disclosure: they were in high school together…)
Their styles immediately clash as Courtney decides to follow up on the issue that got him elected as his first action as mayor. Then, in the middle of that action, his commitment is put to the test as the exclusive club that wouldn’t hire him before offers to give him a choice slot on the same night.
One of the most damning curse is (and I’m paraphrasing here), ‘May you get exactly what you want.’ This is the situation in which Courtney finds himself – and he has to figure it out without his mom’s wisdom…
Written by series creator Jeremy Bronson (Speechless) and directed by James Griffiths (Episodes, black-ish), the series premiere of The Mayor is an exuberant depiction of a more positive version of what we saw in the 2016 Presidential Election – the outsider whose outside the box approach actually beats the more political savvy opponent.
Here, though, despite not really expecting to win, Courtney – after some counselling from his mom – decides to follow through. And when he makes his inevitable mistakes, he recognizes them and works to rectify their effects.
The series premiere of The Mayor works because it’s well written, energetically directed and perfectly cast.
Hall is just right as the impulsive rapper-turned-politician – he bubbles with enthusiasm even if that enthusiasm isn’t always focused in a single direction.
Michele’s Valentin provides focus for the new mayor and suggests that one kind of expertise (as with her ability to create and navigate a political career) can work in tandem with another (Courtney’s exhilarating style) and create something that might well supersede their individual talents.
Jones and Spears form a solid backup duo of opposites – Jermaine is a smooth operator; T.K. is more a sensitive, emotionally awkward guy – whose friendship combines with Dina’s love of her son to create a tight-knit group base for Courtney.
As usual, one episode is certainly not enough to judge a series, but the Mayor has a terrific premiere and even if subsequent episodes are only half as good, it will be worth watching.
Final Grade: A-