My Take On…ABC’s must watch comedy THE MAYOR

THE MAYOR – ABC’s “The Mayor” stars Lea Michele as Valentina Barella, Brandon Micheal Hall as Courtney Rose, Marcel Spears as T.K. Clifton, Bernard David Jones as Jermaine Leforge and Yvette Nicole Brown as Dina Rose. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

In ABC’s THE MAYOR, premiering at 9:30/8:30c tonight, Brandon Michael Hall plays Courtney Rose, a young Northern California rapper who, in an effort to bring attention to his budding music career, runs for Mayor of Fort Grey, California. When he attends the big debate, looking to promote his music (and not ever thinking he could actually win), he masterfully puts his opponent in place over the cleanup of a public park, leading to a surprise victory and a new job.

Created by Jeremy Bronson and executive produced by HAMILTON (and BLACK-ISH) star Daveed Diggs (he’ll also contribute the original music for the series), the show is a joy- and hope-filled look at local politics through the eyes of an inexperienced rapper turned accidental authority figure. Brandon Michael Hall is someone the audiences will want to root for, especially pitted against David Spade’s slimy career-politician.  He’s affable and warm; the perfect kind of Mayor for a town that needs the support of someone who knows what it’s like to live in the neighborhood.

The relationship between Courtney and his mom Dina is great; there’s a fantastic chemistry between Hall and Yvette Nicole Brown that starts with the quick back and forth in the writing, but is lifted even higher by two skilled comedy performers.  Dina is clearly super proud of her son, but also knows that he can be a selfish moron at the same time.  She provides the right amount of guidance to kick him into gear.

Courtney quickly finds an ally in Lea Michelle’s completely on-brand (read: Type A) Valentina Barella, former campaign manager to the losing candidate (and a high school nemesis), who sees a chance to turn him into someone worthy of the job.  Best friends Jermaine and TK (Bernard David Jones and Marcel Spears) are along for the ride, as the most unconventional of political aides you can imagine and some of the funniest moments of the pilot come from their interjections and asides.

The writing is sharp and fast, heart-warming, funny, politically on the nose, and fresh. I warmed to the characters and got the sense of where they were going immediately (a predictable plot made a millions times better with a cast that came to play).  I laughed out loud at parts, really enjoyed the musical cues, and smiled from start to finish.

Partnered with BLACK-ISH (on a new night) to provide a solid anchor to the Tuesday-night-family-comedy block on ABC, THE MAYOR is easily the best new series on the broadcast networks this fall (worth noting: the show that follows it at 10/9c is giving it some serious competition).  I don’t do rating scales often, but I’m throwing 5-stars at this one for sure!