October 3, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “The Mayor”


THE MAYOR:  Tuesday 9:30PM on ABC – Worth A Click

The premise for ABC’s breezy THE MAYOR is wall-to-wall gimmick, in a likable way.  Courtney Rose (Brandon Micheal Hall) is a young aspiring rapper in the small town of Fort Gray, CA who decides to get himself some publicity by declaring his candidacy for Mayor, running a mostly half-hearted campaign with the help of buds Jermaine (Bernard David Jones) and TK (Marcel Spears), under the watchful eye of mom Dina (Yvette Nicole Brown), but to the distaste of his rival’s campaign manager (and his own former high school classmate) Valentina (Lea Michele), who takes governance very seriously.  Well, guess what happens:  Courtney, to his own shock and everyone else’s, wins the election.

The idea of an incompetent, indolent politician with no real interest in holding office certainly has the potential for topical satire, but series creator Jeremy Bronson is after something much more old-fashioned and wholesome.  In a very Frank Capra way, the reason Courtney wins is because the voters–and by the pilot’s end, Valentina–see that under his puckish exterior, he really cares about the town and its problems.  There’s nothing subtle about Bronson’s plotting:  early in the episode, Courtney notes how filthy a local park has gotten, and by the end of the half-hour, after a brief moral slip where he ducks out of his duties to perform in a concert, he stays up all night (with a cute little kid sidekick,  no less) to clean the place up himself.

The Mayor has charm, and so does Hall in the lead, but the pilot lacks the tartness that underlays the sentimentality of ABC’s better family sitcoms like Black-ish (which serves as The Mayor‘s lead-in) and Speechless.  Courtney is so overwhelmingly nice that there’s never any doubt he’ll do the right thing, and he doesn’t really face any adversity (that dirty park seems to be Fort Gray’s biggest and maybe only problem), nor does director James Griffiths strive to find any subtext to the fairy-tale tone.  The supporting characters are, so far, one note:  tough-minded but tender mom, dopey pals, and colleague who seems cynical but secretly has a heart of gold.  (Michele’s role is every Jean Arthur character crossed with her own from Glee.)

Is there more to The Mayor?  We’ll find out soon enough.  Bronson was a writer/producer on Speechless, and also on The Mindy Project, so he has experience with shows that mix conflict with their warmheartedness, but if The Mayor is just Courtney being unconventionally inspirational every week and proving to be a model of city managing, it’s going to get old fast.  As any politician could tell The Mayor, the polls can turn at any moment.  For now, the votes are enojgh for the show to stay in office.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."