The Mayor continues to be absolutely delightful. It’s fun and bright with some political intent, and a cast of characters that are just a joy to watch. It’s probably not going to change your life or totally change your way of looking at the world, but it might make you happy. And in an endless landscape of bleak comedies and dismal dramas (many of which I love, don’t get me wrong), having a half hour a week that just makes you smile is worth a lot, y’know?
This week, Courtney goes to meet with students in the music program from the school he attended. He connects with them, which is obviously going to be his main strength as mayor, and really as a person; for all of his faux pas and impatience when it comes to process, he seems to care very deeply about people and their problems. Despite his enthusiasm, he realizes that the instruments the kids have to use are basically ancient. On the spot, he promises to get them all new equipment, including a sound system. (Obviously the room will be named after him. He may have a heart of gold, but he’s also consistently self indulgent — which somehow comes across as incredibly endearing anyway. It’s magical.)
The problem is, he needs to find the money in the budget to restart the music program. And obviously Val is not down for such a last minute promise that he has no real way to follow through on. He tries to tell her that he’s not a politician, and she points out to him that making empty promises is exactly what politicians do. She ain’t wrong.
Courtney remembers that he’s allowed to veto things, and so decides he’s going to veto the budget the town council is about to approve. Val tries to protest, but he doesn’t listen, just goes full speed ahead and decides to live stream his veto… which obviously fails, because he’s immediately overruled. He goes home disheartened, and has a talk with his mom about how she made ends meet when he was growing up. Since he tried a new instrument every week, and they didn’t have a lot of money, his mom tells him about how she’d find ways to make money stretch a little farther in places where it wouldn’t be felt — buying store brand, buying one-ply toilet paper, and so forth. This gives Courtney the not-so-revolutionary idea to go through the budget and find some corners to cut to finance the music program.
Unfortunately, the vote on the budget is happening that day, so Courtney needs to filibuster while Val and Vern, one of his staffers, go through the line items in the budget and figure it out.
While all of this is going on, Courtney’s mom (hereafter Dina) takes T.K. out to help her make deliveries in her mail truck. T.K. is feeling neglected, because while Jermaine is in charge of social media, he was put in a role that hasn’t been filled for decades, and feels useless. She takes him past an intersection where the traffic light doesn’t really work and people keep getting into accidents, and past a massive pothole she passes every day while working… but it takes him quite a while to understand that it’s actually his job to fix these things. So it seems like Courtney won’t be the only one redefining a role in this administration. It’s also nice to spend some time with other characters and see that they’re going to have their own plots we can focus on. Because endearing as Courtney is, it’ll be good not to be all the pressure of the show on him, as his role basically seems to be (a) create a problem by being too genuine (b) ignore procedure to solve the problem and fail and then (c) realize the error of his ways and find a middle ground between going full rogue and doing things properly.
Speaking of which, Val doesn’t manage to find the money in the budget for the music program, even after Courtney’s filibuster. He and Val have a heart to heart after they’ve failed, where Courtney explains to Val the importance of this program to him. It’s a really lovely moment. He points out to her that, as a type A good student and all around good kid, she grew up used to people telling her that she was smart and special and did a good job. He, however, was a troublemaker without any particular academic gifts. When he got involved with the music program, he had a teacher tell him “good job, Courtney” for the first time, and it really changed its life. It’s a good bonding moment for him and Val, and nice to have a break from their usual Type A vs. Type B dynamic, and just see them connect as people. But in talking, Courtney realizes that it would be impossible to say no to those kids’ faces.
So the new plan is to bring the class to the town council. They have the kids play their instruments and sing and live stream it, which gets the constituents in the town to pay attention and call in and express their displeasure at the music program not getting the funding it deserves. The council relents, and Courtney gets what he wants for the kids.
It is a little confusing, because if the money just isn’t in the budget… it’s never really made clear where it’s coming from. But everything about The Mayor is so kind and warm and lovely that it doesn’t really beg any major dissection of some vague plot points. And I’m saying that as somebody who loves picking holes in shows, even when I like them. The Mayor is just such a delight in every other way, I really don’t care about the finer points of its politics.
Alyssa Thorne | Contributor