Monday, October 16, 2017

The Mayor 1.02: “The Filibuster”

“I would be nowhere if it wasn’t for the lessons I picked up right here. Music kept me out of trouble.”
- Courtney

Now that Courtney has been in office for a few days, he thinks he’s got the hang of things. But Valentina has different ideas. I have to admit Lea Michele is the least awesome part of this show and really needs to tone things down. She always comes off as overbearing in all of the roles I’ve seen her in. Anyway, Valentina wants to prep for a budget meeting later that day but Courtney and his boys have set up a visit to the local elementary school where Courtney got his start and love for music. It starts out as a pretty awesome gig. He’s chatting with some kids and shares how music kept him out of trouble and ultimately led him to becoming mayor. And then as he surveys the crappiness of the instruments the kids have to work with, he promises to provide them with a whole new music center and brand-new instruments. Valentina reminds him that he shouldn’t be making promises he can’t keep (although that’s textbook politician) but he insists he’s going to make it work.

At the pre-budget meeting with a really snooze-fest worthy guy, Courtney realizes that the town budget completely cuts music programs. This is an unfortunately very real issue in a lot of places where the first things to be cut are arts and sciences. How people expect kids to grow up and be functioning adults without these avenues to express themselves is beyond me but then again, maybe I’m biased as I grew up with the arts. Anyway, Courtney gets all fired up about the lack of music and he thinks he has the power to change the budget and just veto the whole thing. His buddy starts livestreaming which only sends Courtney into more hot water when his veto gets overruled by the budget committee. I suspect he won’t make that same mistake twice. While all of this is going on, TK (the Constituent Services liaison) his bumming around with Dina because he thinks the position is a pity job (especially since the post hasn’t been filled since 1976). What she eventually shows him (it is kind of sad how long it took and it was pretty obvious what she was doing from the start) that there are issues he is aware of (including a set of traffic lights with a whole mess of sneakers thrown on them and only one semi-functioning light and a giant puddle) that he can fix in his position and he’s going to work on doing it. I like that we are starting to get to see some of the supporting characters and how they fit in and what their backstory is.

Courtney is clearly upset that he got overwritten and he’s even more annoyed when Valentina points out that she could have told him that but he wasn’t interested in the process. She eventually explains that they need to use the system that is in place and find ways to break it and get around it. The next morning, Dina gives her son some important advice (as it seems she has to do at least once an episode) and explains that she cut money here and there when he was a kid to get him the things he wanted. This gives him the idea to go through the budget and find places to take money from other departments and put it toward the music program. But he’s going to need a distraction to keep the committee from voting. So, as the episode title suggests, he does a filibuster. It’s pretty amusing (far more so than the intercuts to Valentina and the budget guy trying to find places to cut). Ultimately, Courtney must yield the floor when Valentina informs hi they couldn’t find the money.

Valentina suggests that while they may have lost this fight, they should focus on the next thing to fight for. In a rather touching speech that really speaks to many issues, including the treatment of children based on race in education, where he tells Valentina that the first time he was told “good job” in school or any teacher showed any support for him was after the fifth-grade winter concert where he played solo trumpet. Sure, it sucked even though he practiced really hard but it was someone validating the work he had put into it. He’d always been told he was a screw up and now he’d been given a chance to do something more with him. He wonders how they could take away that chance from the kids, leading Valentina to maybe check her white privilege for a hot minute because she races off. While she’s gone, Courtney goes back to the committee hearing and starts talking as just a concerned citizen about taking all of this away. And then the kids bust in and Courtney’s other friend starts living streaming the performance. Courtney even gets to rap a little bit before the lead committee member pulls him aside and remarks that it won’t change his vote. The kids themselves may not make the change but all of the other constituent’s calling their reps to make sure the music program isn’t going anywhere certainly does. I thought it was a somewhat obvious decision but also kind of ingenious and it worked. I don’t know that I necessarily want to see Courtney win every battle he faces because that’s not realistic. But I do like that he is learning that he needs to sometimes work within the confines of the system to make the change he wants. And hey, with TK getting the sneakers off the street lights, they’ve got some new kicks (even if they’re filled with bugs and other creepy crawling things). Overall, I thought this was a pretty solid second outing for “The Mayor” and I will continue to watch and enjoy Courtney’s journey and the wisdom his mom and those around him provide him.

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