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.

Mayor Of Kingstown

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.