With all the political shenanigans that occurred in 2020, probably the last TV show you want to watch right now is one about politics. Thankfully for all of us, NBC’s new comedy, “Mr. Mayor,” is not political.
Yes, the show is about a mayor and his political team. But “Mayor” is really a workplace comedy that just happens to take place in a political work setting. Though the humor does occasionally come from political issues, most of it comes from the quirky characters and their relationships with each other. And all of it is incredibly funny.
“Mayor” stars Ted Danson as Neil Bremer, a retired businessman who ends up running for mayor of Los Angeles after the mayor unexpectedly quits. Neil retired when his wife died to take care of their daughter, and she’s never really seen him work at anything. So, he partly runs to show her he can be successful, but he also truly cares about his city. After he surprisingly wins, he has to figure out what he’s doing. Helping him are his team, including his communications director, Jaden (Bobby Moynihan). Jaden is perpetually clueless about Los Angeles and communications, but the rest of Neil’s incoming team keeps Jaden around to use as a scapegoat when necessary. In addition to the displeasure of his teenage daughter, Orly (Kyla Kenedy), Neil must also deal with his biggest critic, Arpi (Holly Hunter), a city councilwoman who seems to hate every move Neil makes.
In the premiere, Neil’s first policy decision messes with Orly’s run for student body president, and Jaden proves to be more useful than he appears in dealing with Arpi. The premiere has its funny moments, but it’s a little uneven as it introduces the characters and sets up the plot. The scenes depicting the previous mayor’s departure are particularly awkward. But the second episode is absolutely hysterical, as Neil spends a day in the community visiting local businesses and organizations while his team tries to keep his appearances from going viral. The episode is an excellent showcase for Danson’s enormous comedy talents and also manages to make the often harsh Arpi likeable.
“Mayor” comes from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the team behind “30 Rock,” so it’s not surprising that the show feels like “30 Rock” at a city hall. And just like Alec Baldwin was the perfect choice for that show, Danson is phenomenal here. He’s basically playing the same likeable goof that he always does, but when he makes it so entertaining, you honestly don’t mind. They really should just hand him an Emmy nomination now, because there’s no way he’s not on the list in July. Hunter also has outstanding comedy chops, and Moynihan manages to take what could be a one-note character and make him incredibly likeable.
NBC is super excited about “Mayor,” and they should be as it is the perfect way for the network — and us — to jump into 2021.
“Mr. Mayor” premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, with back-to-back episodes on NBC.