There was a time when Taylor Sheridan was the hot, up-and-coming filmmaker whose work I consistently sought. The first Sicario film was a tight and tense thriller about the Mexican drug cartel, while Hell or High Water and Wind River both served as excellent modern-day western dramas. Since coming out with Sicario: Day of the Soldado and co-writing Without Remorse, I feel his spark has seemed to turn into a flicker and will eventually fizzle before too long.
I’m aware of his initial venture into television via Yellowstone. While I’m a sucker for western dramas, I just don’t really make too much time to get invested in that many television series altogether. I decided to give Mayor of Kingstown a try since it’s only one season thus far and I like seeing Jeremy Renner venture away from anything Marvel-related. But as I kept watching the series, it felt like Sheridan has a lot of places to take with the series, but nothing really develops beyond the initial idea.
Renner stars as Mike McClusky, who is part of a family that owns the incarceration industry in Kingstown, Michigan. Although it’s the place where Mike and his family were raised, each of them and others in their circle keep saying they want to get out. Their small town has become increasingly violent and overrun by the gang members that populate the area. Mike serves as a partner to his brother Mitch (Kyle Chandler), who is the town’s supposed mayor. Mitch tries to make reason with the law enforcement and the gangs that populate the town, but, as the series progresses, that doesn’t always result in the way things were planned.
Mitch and Mike have another brother, Kyle (Taylor Handley), who serves as a local police officer. He’s not as involved with Mitch and Mike and does what he can to help out but also try to find a balance where it doesn’t conflict too much with his job and personal life. Their mother Mariam (Dianne Wiest) is a teacher at the prison, who teaches the inmates about American history but skews it to make them believe that it was founded upon “racism.” And you thought it was only being taught in public schools.
Kingstown has a lot of issues going for it, whether it’s the crime or the racism. It’s a poor community with a lot of interconnection that has evolved into obvious corruption. But Sheridan’s series doesn’t take time to explore beyond what’s on the surface or to distance itself from your typical procedural drama. Many characters will spout about oppression or corruption and how Kingstown has become a hell hole, and it’s clear to see. But, aside from one particular scene in the premiere episode that twists the plot of the series, there isn’t much that is shocking or original.
A lot of Mayor of Kingstown relies heavily on stereotypes and cliches. There’s one police officer who is seen in the fifth episode eating a can of Vienna sausage and nothing else. His partners mock him and question if his home life really is that bad. Flash to a brief scene at the officer’s rundown home, where his overweight wife viciously attacks him for not being present and not taking better care of her and their disabled son. And then the police officer with the troubled home life appears again for a brief moment near the end of the season, and it’s difficult to determine if the viewer is supposed to care for the character. Outside of Renner and Wiest, the other characters get very little development and are then catapulted into horrific scenes of violence. But the emotional aspect is lost amongst the gunfire and chaos.
The Blu-ray release for Mayor of Kingstown comes with all 10 episodes of the first season in 1080p with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track. There are more than two hours of special features for fans of the show who want to get more behind-the-scenes looks. The special features include:
- Behind the Story segments for each episode
- Perdition: Making Mayor of Kingstown
- Zero Sum Game: The Finale
- Inside Mayor of Kingstown
- Character Spots
- Cast Favorite Scenes
Fans of procedural dramas may find something worthy with Mayor of Kingstown that will keep them invested. For me, it just felt more of the same, despite a strong performance by Renner. Season two of the series has already been ordered, but I most likely won’t be tuning in.