Crime, corruption, and power in a prison town

Mayor of Kingstown Season 1 Review

Jeremy Renner is at his best on this gritty crime-thriller. It’s set in a town where prisons are the only booming business and Mike McLusky is one of the power brokers who rules it all.

Mayor of Kingstown is part of Taylor Sheridan’s roster on Paramount+, which also includes Yellowstone, Hell or High Water, 1883 and Special Ops: Lioness.

Mike McLusky (Jeremy Renner)

A tense drama of family power and corruption, Mayor of Kingstown is the new series from Yellowstone co-creators Taylor Sheridan and Hugh Dillon. The Paramount+ series stars Jeremy Renner as Mike McLusky, the de facto mayor of Kingstown, a town built to support seven prisons within a 10-mile radius.

Mike is a felon who feels trapped in the titular prison town, doing whatever he can to survive in a place that values money more than morality. His cop brother Kyle (Taylor Handley) worries about his risky wheeling and dealing, and their mother Miriam (Dianne Wiest) wants nothing to do with her two eldest sons.

Despite their differences, Kyle and Mike are a formidable team. Kyle has the advantage of his law enforcement training, and Mike has the benefit of a shady past that includes prison time as a “Shot Caller.” They both take on dangerous cases, including one involving a man known as Milo Sunter, who is believed to have killed two women in Kingstown.

Iris McLusky (Dianne Wiest)

Two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest plays Mariam McLusky, mother of Jeremy Renner’s hard-luck character Mike and co-star Taylor Handley’s Mitch. The series opens with a scene in which she lectures her sons on the Civil War and states that it was fought over states’ rights, but it seems she knows full well what they are up to.

The men work as liaisons between Kingstown’s prison populations and the outside world. At the same time, they are fighting to keep their town alive and thriving.

Whether or not Mayor of Kingstown succeeds remains to be seen, but the show is worth watching for a couple of reasons. Its setting is compelling, its characters are interesting and well-rounded, and its story is intriguing. It also boasts a cast that is full of familiar faces. However, the show can get messy at times with its over-reliance on a riot-of-the-week structure and an abundance of characters talking in indecipherable jargon.

Kyle McLusky (Kyle Chandler)

Jeremy Renner’s Mitch McLusky dies in the first episode of Mayor of Kingstown, and his younger brother Mike steps up to run the family power play. But it isn’t all about him in this hard-to-watch series, where incarceration is the only thriving industry.

Mike doesn’t set boundaries as well as his older brother, and he quickly gets dragged into multiple unfolding dramas both inside and outside of the prison walls. His mother, Mariam (Dianne Wiest), doesn’t approve of her sons’ line of work.

With Yellowstone and 1883 hogging all the headlines, Taylor Sheridan’s other series, Mayor of Kingstown on Paramount Plus, might be overlooked, but there is some potential here once it stops doing the averted-riot-of-the-week structure and foregrounds its crime-and-punishment introspection. And the show also benefits from a solid cast led by Taylor Handley and Aidan Gillen. It’s time to give it a chance.

Vera McLusky (Derek Webster)

Two-time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner headlines the cast of Paramount+’s gritty series Mayor of Kingstown. The show follows the McLusky family, who are power brokers in their town’s incarceration industry. It tackles themes of systemic racism, corruption and inequality.

The first episode of the season premieres Sunday, Jan. 15 for exclusive viewing on the streaming service in Canada and the U.S. It will then air the following day in Australia and the U.K.

The gritty crime drama stars Jeremy Renner, Dianne Wiest, Hugh Dillon, Taylor Handley, Emma Laird, Tobi Bamtefa, Nishi Munshi, Derek Webster, and Hamish Allan-Headley. It’s rated TV-MA and contains severe depictions of sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, frightening or intense scenes, and drug use. It also contains moderate portrayals of alcohol and tobacco use. The series is created by Taylor Sheridan. It is executive produced by Sheridan and Antoine Fuqua (Yellowstone). The show was developed by Sheridan, Dillon, and Michael Braverman and directed by John Lee Hancock.

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