City Hall meets hip-hop aspiration in satiric “The Mayor”
Kimberly C. Roberts
There was a time when a sitcom like ABC’s “The Mayor,” premiering at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, would have been considered pure satire, but a look at today’s headline is living proof that when it comes to politics in modern America anything is possible.
In this engaging comedy, Brandon Micheal Hall stars as Courtney Rose, a witty, smart 27-year-old rapper who has been toiling away in complete anonymity working in a makeshift studio at an apartment in the Fort Grey, Calif., that he shares with his mother, Dina (Yvette Nicole Brown).
While Courtney definitely has something relevant to say, and has the full support of his buddies Jermaine (Bernard Jones) and TK (Marcel Spears), he is just one of countless rappers across the country who truly thinks he is the next big thing — if he could just get a break.
One day, Courtney comes up with an outrageous publicity stunt that is guaranteed to generate serious buzz for his music career. He decides to run for mayor of Fort Grey, opposing Councilman Ed Gunt (David Spade).
“So it turns out it’s super easy to run for local office,” Courtney says on a local news show. “Step one — get 200 signatures; step two — don’t be a felon; and I don’t go to trial until next year...I’m just playin’ Mom. I love you!”
Courtney goes through all the motions of a “real” candidate — participating in debates, running a full-fledge campaign, and never missing an opportunity to mention his latest rap project. In the process, it soon becomes evident that Courtney is much more in touch with his community and its problems than career politician Gunt, whose campaign is being run by Courtney’s high school nemesis, Valentina Flores (Lea Michele).
The plan appears to be working, with the numbers for the rapper’s mixtape going through the roof, but life around the apartment is spiraling out of control. “If you want to get discovered, just do it the old-fashioned — by waiting for an old Jewish man to give you his business card,” says an exasperated Dina.
Then, the unthinkable happens. When the polls close on election night in Fort Grey, Courtney Rose is announced as the new mayor. Stunned, he immediately begins to look for a way out, but Dina, knowing that her son actually has what it takes to become a great mayor, asks quietly, “Why do you rap? You rap because you’re a commentator. You’re an observer. You critique the status quo. Baby, maybe now you can actually change it!”
After a brief moment of contemplation, Dina’s “baby” responds, “You know what, Ma! I think I got this!”
“The Mayor” was written by executive producer Jeremy Bronson, and the pilot, which features a cameo appearance by Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney, was directed by executive producer James Griffits.
Daveed Diggs, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Broadway’s “Hamilton,” guest stars as rapper Mac Etcetra. He also serves as executive producer.