Every once in a while, you watch a TV show that makes you wonder: could parts of our modern world really be like that? is there somebody who actually has that kind of job, and lives that kind of life?
Mayor of Kingstown, on the Paramount + network, is one of those shows. Set in a town where the main business is prisons, with multiple correctional facilities within a small geographic area, the show focuses on the complicated and explosive balance between guards and gangs, prisoners and police. And the so-called “Mayor” is the guy who is tasked with maintaining the peace between all of the competing factions. Part diplomat, part strategist, and part tough guy who isn’t shy about cracking heads, the Mayor keeps the channels of communication open, advises the guards and the gangs, brokers compromises, and basically does whatever he can to keep a desperate peace in place.
Calling this show “gritty” doesn’t really begin to capture it. It’s about as grim as it gets, with characters who clearly feel trapped in a seamy underworld of violence, crime, and horror. It’s a world where characters drop the f-bomb every second or third word–and you definitely understand why. But the premise is compelling, the show is very well-acted, and the sense of reality, whether in prison or out on the streets, is solid. Jeremy Renner is excellent as Mike McLusky, the poor guy tasked with an impossible job. And we particularly like Tobi Bamtefa as “Bunny,” the smart drug dealer who spends all of his time sitting next to a cooler on a lawn but has his finger on the pulse of the town and helps Mike keep the lid on the pressure cooker, and Nichola Galicia as Rebecca, MIke’s capable, do-everything assistant. Every show like this also needs a fearsome and convincing “bad guy,” and Aidan Gillen more than fits that bill as the cold-blooded, sociopathic Milo Sunter.
Season 1 of Mayor ended with a bang. We’re glad to hear that the Hollywood scuttlebutt is that the show will be renewed for a second season, with new episodes to begin airing later this year. That should give us enough time to brace ourselves for another dip into the grime.