I wasn’t initially taken with Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s latest sitcom but felt that there were enough positive elements to be cautiously optimistic that it would find its feet over time. And hopefully that will be the case if the show returns for a second season, but right now it is a rare occasion where Fey and Carlock have made something that is rather patchy, with too many characters who are borderline unlikeable.
The set up for the majority of the episodes is that Danson’s Mayor Bremer has to tackle a dull if major issue, his staff are either inept or fighting amongst themselves, or Holly Hunter’s Deputy Mayor Meskimen has her own agenda and will secretly get her way. Meanwhile the mayor’s daughter Orly (Kyla Kenedy) is quite annoying, mostly complaining about her life or on hand to offer up advice that for some reason the supposedly smart Bremer didn’t think of himself, and the two young staff members Mikaela Shaw (Vella Lovell) and Tommy Tomás (Mike Cabellon) mean well but handle things poorly.
That was certainly the case with this first season finale, as due to Covid they were only able to make nine episodes instead of the scheduled thirteen. It’s not all bad either, Fey and Carlock are still capable of creating some very funny moments and that was best represented by Bremer appearing on a live talk show at the beginning of the episode with former mayor Victor Delgado (Benito Martinez), but once the two major plots of the episode kicked off it became a drag.
The A-plot saw Bremer horrified that it costs the city fifty million to look after all of the palm trees, and that led him to having to deal with another selection of batshit crazy residents of the city. Meeting with people who are weird and demented was funny when Amy Poehler did it in Parks and Recreation but Fey and Carlock make these people too weird and too stupid and it just becomes tiring, and though Bremer got a win in the end it was only by making the deputy mayor seem even crazier. On that front I’m still not quite sure what they’re trying to do with Holly Hunter’s character, some episodes she’s the smartest in the room, but some episodes she’s weirder than Tracy Morgan’s character in 30 Rock, and it just isn’t working.
That’s also the case with Bobby Moynihan’s speech writer Jayden who has become odder and odder over the season and the show doesn’t benefit from it, it’s packed with too many strange weirdos and while that might have been effective in the showbiz world of 30 Rock or the heightened reality of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, here it seems just plain outlandish. The B-Plot where a woman claimed she was pregnant and that Jayden was the father was predictable and bizarrely exhausting, and once again made me wonder why the mayor would surround himself by so many inept or difficult characters, and though Mikaela and Tommy are at least smart and good at what they do the way the show keeps giving them plots where they learn something about themselves is rather tedious.
Its a show I want to like, the cast have all been superb elsewhere, and Fey and Carlock have created a lot of sublime comedy in the past. But this really needs a retooling, that or they need to decide what they want to do with the show, and either make it a satire on the insane world of politics or really go crazy and make it a surreal slice of madness, as right now the combination of the two is often quite irritating, and worst of all too many of the jokes fall flat or are perplexingly unfunny as they’re delivered by characters that I struggle to even vaguely like.