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Play Along With ‘The Mayor’
October 3, 2017  | By David Hinckley

ABC’s new sitcom The Mayor is kinda goofy. It also kinda works.

Premiering at 9:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, The Mayor starts from the premise that 27-year-old rapper Courtney Rose (Brandon Micheal Hall, top), frustrated that his career is going nowhere, accidentally gets himself elected mayor of his hometown

He only ran, you see, as a publicity stunt to get people to download his music.  

He assumed his chances of winning were about the same as his chances of Beyoncé leaving Jay-Z to become his backup vocalist. So imagine his surprise when he won 52% of the vote, apparently on the strength of cracking a few jokes about litter at the local housing project during a campaign debate.

We didn’t say The Mayor was a credible political story. Dude, it’s a sitcom. Roll with it.

Anyhow, the morning after he wins, his opponent’s campaign manager Harley Barella (Lea Michele) shows up at his house to announce she’s now going to run things for Courtney.

Harley is not an entirely different character than Michele played in Glee, only this time she aspires to the White House instead of Broadway.

She recognizes Courtney knows nothing about being mayor, which in truth doesn’t take much insight. The morning after his election we see him outside City Hall taking a selfie.  

But he obviously has charisma, since he got elected without knowing anything, and she figures she can work with that.

Using index cards, she begins to outline a methodical, detailed plan for addressing all the city’s problems in his first hundred days.

Partway through her presentation, Courtney interrupts to say he’s bored. “No revolution ever started with index cards,” he declares.

When you think about it, he’s right.

Instead, he and the rest of his personal team – homeboys Jermaine Laforge (Bernard David Jones, right) and T.K. Clifton (Marcel Spears, right) – decide they’d rather throw a celebratory block party, with barbecue and a DJ.

This isn’t a terrible idea until Courtney, who has the permit for the party, slips away to soak up some props from his own rap hero, Mac Etcetera (Daveed Diggs).

Absent a permit, the party is terminated by the cops, and Courtney gets lectures from Harley and his mother Dina (Yvette Nicole Brown) on taking his new responsibilities seriously.

Something about how he used to be just wasting his own life, but now he might be wasting the lives of the whole town.

He still doesn’t have a clue what to do, of course, because he’s still the guy who, when asked by a reporter why he was running for mayor, replied, “Why does anybody in my generation do anything? To get attention.”

The Mayor often feels like it’s written to set up one-liners, which is rarely good news. But all five of the core characters quickly feel engaging, and that’s what really makes a sitcom enjoyable.

While The Mayor tosses politics into its barrage of current-events jokes, and while it unavoidably has the premise of a rookie stepping into a big political job, its humor doesn’t feel overly partisan. 

When Harley tells Courtney she wants to become the most powerful woman operative in politics, she carefully references both Republican Kellyanne Conway and Democrat Donna Brazile.

That’s not the only tightrope the show may be walking as it moves forward. It has already signaled that Courtney won’t stay perpetually irresponsible, yet we can’t wake up in the third episode and find he’s become Barack Obama.

Whatever he becomes, it could be fun to watch. Better yet, it will be harmless. Dude, it’s a sitcom.

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