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Wealthy retired businessman Neil Bremer went and got himself elected mayor of Los Angeles, and now he has to figure out how to do the job, with the chaotic “help” of the kooky city employees who work for him. He’s also trying to relate to his teenage daughter, to whom he’s a single father.
Mr. Mayor is the latest show from 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt duo Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Together or separately, they have writing credits on four of the seven episodes that have aired so far. The cast is led by Ted Danson and includes Holly Hunter, Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Vella Lovell, and Speechless’ Kyla Kenedy.
There comes a time when even the most dedicated binge-rewatcher of 30 Rock, The Office, and Parks and Recreation gets tired of hearing the same jokes over and over again. When that happens, they look for something that will provide fresh laughs but still has the comfortable, character-driven feel of their favorite shows. That new show should be Mr. Mayor, a recently-premiered NBC show that’s available to stream on Peacock.
Mr. Mayor attempts to recreate the glory days of NBC comedy by combining the premise of Parks and Rec–dysfunctional workplace comedy about a local government office–with the comic sensibility of 30 Rock, via the mind of Tina Fey. Another NBC icon, Ted Danson of Cheers and more recently The Good Place, stars as Neil Bremer, a retired businessman who gets elected mayor of Los Angeles. He’s an out-of-touch old rich guy, but his heart is in the right place, and he actually wants to do right by the residents of the city, the people who work for him, and his teenage daughter Orly (Kyla Kenedy). He learns how to be a better politician and a better person from deputy mayor and longtime city council member Arpi Meskimen (Oscar winner Holly Hunter), a bleeding-heart do-gooder who actually knows how to get things done. Rounding out the core cast are Vella Lovell as Mikaela Shaw, Bremer’s image-obsessed chief of staff; Mike Cabellon as Tommy Tomás, his sarcastic chief strategist; and the great Bobby Moynihan as hapless communications director Jayden Kwapis. Every line the writers give Moynihan is a joke, and even when he’s not speaking, he’s doing comedy, like in a hilarious running gag where he never knows the appropriate way to sit.
Mr. Mayor is as packed with jokes as you’d expect from a show created by Fey and her longtime collaborator Robert Carlock. You may have to watch it with your remote in hand in case you have to rewind it to catch a rapid-fire quip you missed. It’s that classic wry and pop cultural referential Tina Fey humor that gets very close to the line of being offensive but somehow manages to mostly stay on the right side. The primary targets of jokes on Mr. Mayor are oblivious people, whether they’re rich old white men or spoiled teenagers. The caustic humor makes the show lack the warmth that some sitcom fans may crave, especially in the post-Schitt’s Creek era, but, like Lemon and Donaghy, the characters do secretly care about each other. Hopefully that care becomes more explicit as the show progresses.
The show is still figuring out what works–the workplace comedy part is a lot more successful than the family comedy part–but it’s getting there, and it’s only going to keep getting better as it settles into itself. And the jokes that will make you throw your head back with laughter are already there. Get onboard now.
Part family comedy and part workplace comedy, Mr. Mayor is a perfect replacement for Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock, with a murderer’s row of talent in front of and behind the camera. If you’re looking for something to watch with the family that goes down easy but still has a little bit of bite, this one’s for you.
This is a show for anyone who loves 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, or The Office, which is basically everyone above the age of 13 or so. There are jokes for people of Ted Danson’s generation and of Kyla Kenedy’s generation, and watching it together may help both sides avoid future “OK boomer” moments.
How to watch it: Streaming on Peacock and NBC.com. New episodes air Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.