Foul-Mouthed

We’ve been catching up on season 2 of Mayor of Kingstown, the bleak drama about the interactions of police, prison guards, gang members, and other criminals in the hellish, apocalyptically awful, and fortunately fictional town of Kingstown, Michigan. We liked the grittiness of season 1, and so far season 2 has upped the ante considerably, with even more hyperviolence and angry confrontations as the town deals with the aftermath of the ugly, deadly prison riot that ended the first season.

The show has also upped the ante on obscenities. The characters drop f-bombs like Hansel and Gretel dropped bread crumbs in order to find their way out of the enchanted forest. In fact, so many f-bombs are dropped that you might call the dialogue carpet f-bombing. I thought Deadwood would never be surpassed in the constantly cussing category, but I think Mayor of Kingstown has accomplished that seemingly impossible feat. In a standard scene like the one shown above, the Jeremy Renner character, Mike McLusky, and his cop friends all will use the Queen Mother of Curses multiple times, then McLusky will stride angrily away to his car, toss in a few different obscenities for a change of pace, and then flip off the police for good measure. And when he’s driving away in his car–which he does a lot–he’ll inevitably get a call that requires him to add a few additional f words to the mix.

I’m no prude, and recognize that obscenities are part of life. But I feel like sometimes the barrage of blue language in TV shows has become a kind of crutch for both screenwriters and actors. For screenwriters, f-bombs are a shortcut way to convey that the world of the show is a harsh, disturbing place, and actors might lean on the dialogue to carry the weight of showing anger–rather than using physical and emotional acting to do so. But, as with anything, overuse of obscenities dissipates the impact and can become a distraction.

If you played a drinking game where you had to take a swig of an adult beverage whenever a character on Mayor of Kingstown hurls an f-bomb, you’d be chugging constantly and passed out halfway through the show. When you’ve gotten to that point, you might want to dial back the f-bomb barrage, and make the screenwriters and actors work a bit.

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