Monday, January 1, 2018

The Mayor 1.08: “Monuments Man”

“When you’re a leader you have to see things from both sides. Consider opposing perspectives.”
- Courtney

As is becoming a pattern on “The Mayor”, we have two storylines that really don’t have that much to do with each other. The B storyline involves Dina taking over as choir director and becoming something of a dictator on what songs she wants to sing and who can be a soloist. It really only serves the larger plot when Courtney needs his jolt of inspiration from his mother to solve the problem posed at the top of the episode and to provide a fun little bit at the very end of the episode. I didn’t really see the point in this storyline, other than the fact that we had a previous arc where Dina was strong armed into joining the choir (that she didn’t really want to join in the first place).

The larger storyline involves a local bar that Courtney started rapping in. Tito’s Ballroom holds quite the place in his heart in terms of remembering his roots and where he came from. It also happens to be where he and the guys (and Dina) hang every Tuesday night. Well, that tradition won’t be going much longer because Tito can’t keep up with the rising costs and rent of the place. He’s going to have to close down. Courtney, obviously, is heartbroken by this notion and decides he is going to find a way to save the bar. His solution: hold a music festival to raise money so that they can keep the bar open. Finding acts is going to prove harder than Courtney thought, especially when he gets asked questions like “is Bono coming?”.

He starts by going on a local talk show to get the message about that he wants to save the bar and help out a friend. Of course, Councilman Ed Gunt is on the warpath because as we know, he just really doesn’t like Courtney. He’s so obnoxious it kind of makes watching the show less fun. I just want to smack him repeatedly fore being such a jerk. He threatens Courtney with corruption charges if he continues to use his position as Mayor to divert public funds to help save Tito’s. Courtney’s first idea to counteract Gunt is to go back on the talk show and find people who will speak at a public hearing on why the place should be saved. He also learns that the bar used to be a meeting place for the Black Panthers back in the 1970s. He thinks that promoting the wider historical relevance of the place will be a way to garner more support. It turns out that it does just the opposite. A man stands up at Courtney’s prompting and admits he didn’t like the place because riots broke out there and caused a lot of people harm and Courtney bringing it up on the radio triggered his PTSD. Yeah, that’s not such a great thing and Gunt ends up blocking Courtney’s measure to have the festival.

Of course, Dina helps Courtney find the right way to approach the problem as she’s ranting about her choir quitting on her. Well, Courtney kind of brings up the concept on his own that he should see the opposition’s perspective but it’s Dina who really gives him the little push he needs. He shares his idea with the gang and they head back to the City Council armed with some Danish pastries based on Gunt’s stint on the radio show. See, he’s got this bakery that he takes his kids to that sell a particular pastry eaten during a Danish celebration. Courtney points out that Gunt would be upset if they tore down the bakery and that is how Courtney feels about Tito’s. So, he is going to work on passing a preservation act that will keep places like Tito’s (and the bakery presumably) in tact even if finances get hit and they can’t actually stay open. So, ultimately, Courtney gets the win he was looking for (and the festival he really wanted). In the episode tag at the end, Val comes in to find the guys putting together a ridiculous list of places to make future monuments in town. Yeah, because that’s a great use of taxpayer money, guys. It was fun to see a rapper on the show other than Courtney (although I do think they have him record some of the tracks that get overlaid on the episode which I think is a fun little touch). I was kind of hoping we’d see Daveed Diggs again but I guess he’s kind of busy doing other things that are Hamilton related.

As much as it’s nice to see him win, it would be more realistic if he didn’t always get his way or solve the problem in a nice little bow. That’s really been my biggest gripe this entire season. Sure, they come to realizations every episode but there doesn’t appear to be sustained growth throughout the season. It’s just very standalone plotlines. Maybe I’d prefer it more if it was an overarching narrative and we really got to see them grow. Sure, they reference things they’ve done before (they did give a little nod to saving the music program at the elementary school from earlier in the season) but that’s about it. And it would be great, if they are going to always have Courtney win and solve the problem of the week, that he comes to it all on his own. Without Dina or Valentina being the catalyst. Here’s hoping that one day we’ll get an episode that either Courtney won’t solve the problem and learn the value in losing sometimes or if he always has to win, he’ll at least come up with the solution himself without the aid of other people in his life. If we don’t get some changes to the format of the episodes, I’m not sure the show will be back next season.

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