Imagine this: a self-promoter with no political experience runs for office just for the attention… and wins. From its logline, The Mayor on ABC reads like a liberal fantasy retelling of the Donald Trump story: What if the outsider politician was actually a cool, young black man who actually did want to help the community? Enter Courtney Rose (Brandon Micheal Hall), a rapper who runs for mayor of his California town against a slimy veteran politician (David Spade) because he wants publicity for his music career.
“Voters won’t fall for that,” says opposition campaign manager, the uptight Valentina Barella (a very on-brand Lea Michele). “Not in America.”
And then, of course, the absurd becomes reality — Courtney Rose goes from anonymous election anomaly (“Wasn’t she on Bachelor in Paradise?” asks an ignorant voter) to winning the election and, with the help of his mother (Yvette Nicole Brown), Rose begins to recognize all the good he can do from a seat of power, especially once Barella joins his team as his chief of staff.
Maybe it’s unlucky timing that the show, which was pitched a month before Trump secured the GOP nomination, is dropping now, but it’s also possible the inevitable Trump comparisons actually make The Mayor shine as the sweet, big-hearted show we need now more than ever. Producers Jeremy Bronson (Speechless) and Hamilton alum Daveed Diggs have done the impossible: created an entirely un-cynical political parody.
The repartee, especially between Hall and Brown, is lightning-fast and far funnier than most network comedy fare. And while the basic plot, at least in the show’s pilot, might be predictable, it more than redeems itself with and an expert chemistry among the cast and Hall’s tangible charisma. It’s Hall who’s responsible for making the show work as well as it does, navigating a tricky character in Courtney Rose who might have been insufferable in someone else’s hands. Rose is a little selfish but still caring, enterprising but a little ignorant and, most important, funny. Consider this my formal endorsement. A–