'The Mayor' premiere recap: No political experience required
By Kate Coiro
For The Baltimore Sun|
Oct 04, 2017 | 3:15 PM
Try to imagine a scenario in which someone with no political experience runs for office. And wins. I know — this might sound vaguely familiar.
Now, imagine that this person lives in an apartment with his mother, rides a bicycle to work, and says things like "that's how I roll."
By now you've likely realized that we're not talking about Donald Trump. Rather, it's Courtney Rose. Ever heard of him?
If the answer is no, that's OK, because this fictional character just came into our lives. Courtney Rose is the protagonist of ABC's "The Mayor," which began its first season Tuesday night.
In the show's opening scene, we meet Rose (Brandon Micheal Hall) as he admires a new pair of sneakers. He doesn't put them on or polish them, but holds them above his head, "Lion King" style, and talks to them like he would talk to a pretty girl — "Daaaamn, how you doin' shawty?"
He's also a rapper, albeit, a struggling one. This, we find out in the following scene, is why Rose has decided to run for mayor of his hometown. He wants publicity. What better way, in this day and age, to get that than through a political campaign?
After all, "it's super easy," according to Rose. "Step 1, get 200 signatures. Step 2, don't be a felon."
His opponent, Ed Gunt (David Spade), doesn't think Rose has a shot at winning. The two face off in political debate within the episode's first few minutes.
Initially, it appears Gunt is the obvious winner. He's well dressed in a suit and tie. He has a smart and energetic campaign manager (Lea Michele). He is not afraid to correct Rose when he makes a mistake.
But then, Gunt mentions the City Commons, a park in Fort Grey, Calif., where the show is set, and Rose cuts him off. After asking when Gunt last spent time in the commons, Rose jokes, "there's so much trash, Bravo gave it a second season."
Hidden behind humor, a new side of Rose is revealed. No, he's not exactly qualified for office. No, he doesn't know the first thing about formal debate. But Rose does know Fort Grey. And, judging by the laughter in the room, he knows how to win over a crowd.
I am reassured, however, when Gunt's former campaign manager, Valentina Barella, marches into Rose's bedroom the next morning. She wakes up Fort Grey's newest mayor with coffee, and a plan.
For Barella, Rose's inexperience offers an opportunity to advance her career. If she can help him successfully navigate his new position, she is sure to join the "pantheon of female political masterminds, just crushing every Kellyanne Conway and Donna Brazile in [her] path." It's an offer that Rose can't afford to turn down.
A moment later, the duo is standing inside city hall as Barella introduces Rose to his new team. "I found you the absolute best staffers in the county," she says. "But they weren't available."
That's OK, because Rose has also hired his two best friends: Jermain Leforge (Bernard David Jones) and T.K. Clifton (Marcel Spears). They may not have any more political experience than Rose, but they do "know Fort Grey inside and out."
The mayor's first order of business? Restore the City Commons. How? Doing what Rose and his friends do best: Throwing the party "of the millennium."
The following scenes show Rose and his team preparing for the party as Rihanna's "Work" plays in the background. Invitations are extended. Supplies are bought. Rose even remembers to get the necessary city permit. Together, Fort Grey citizens clean the City Common and the mayor's first order of business seems like a success.
Then, Rose gets a call from a local booker. He's been asked to perform at the 8:30 Club, a gig he never would have gotten before the election. Ignoring his friend's advice to stay at the party, Rose leaves.
In his absence, the cops arrive. They're looking for the permit that Rose still holds in his pocket. Without it present, the party is shut down and Rose's mother is arrested after provoking the cops — "Arrest? I'd like to see you try."
With less than five minutes left in the episode, it appears Fort Grey's newest mayor has failed. But once again, Mom steps in with some advice.
"Courtney, listen. This is not about you anymore. Your actions have consequences for a lot of people," Rose's mother tells him. "Your failures are their failures."
Flash forward a few more scenes, and Rose has finished cleaning the Commons with the help of a neighborhood kid (Di Vinci SanTana Guthrie). Maybe he has what it takes to be the mayor after all.