Corruption and Gang Laws Set the Terms for Peace in ‘Mayor of Kingstown’


The newest Paramount+ original series is packed with some of Hollywood’s most notable stars, including Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner, Academy Award winner Dianne West, and Emmy Winner Kyle Chandler. 

Kingstown, Michigan. Its primary enterprise? Incarceration. The town is home to seven prisons, and over twenty thousand inmates. Despite lacking the official title, Mike McLusky (Renner) is dubbed the mayor of the town, and he spends his days managing the rocky relationship between the outside world and one behind bars. His brother Mitch (Chandler) assists him in handling individual cases like transferring criminals between cells, preventing fights, smuggling items in and out of the prisons, appeasing the inmates’ difficult and desperate loved ones, and the overall manipulation of both populations. The brothers have connections all over town: with the guards, local drug dealers, families, and the law. Everyone knows who the McLusky brothers are, and everyone knows they are off limits. 

But there are outliers who are not happy about this little family affair. Mike’s mother Mariam (West) is the most vocal one, as she refuses to listen to a single mention of her sons and their near-illicit activities. 

After a job is interfered with and Mitch ends up murdered at the hands of the mafia — the one organisation that the brothers don’t make deals with — Mike is forced to re-evaluate the business. In a town where no one new is welcome and no one old can leave, knowing where you stand is crucial. Otherwise, you won’t be prepared when the reckoning comes — and when your life is defined by crooked men and crooked jobs — it will come. 


Profanity, nudity, guns, and danger are the four pillars of Mayor of Kingstown, Taylor Sheridan and Hugh Dillion’s ten episode crime drama. It’s criminals working for criminals, and all parties involved are trapped within a bleak cage of penitentiaries, strip clubs and dilapidated buildings that invite peril. Industrialisation and dark motives compose the backdrop to this little slice of American purgatory. When everyone knows everyone, trouble knocks on every door. 

Each character is about as grey as they come. “We never break a deal,” says Mike, but not all the players follow that same rule. That greyness seeps over into each aspect of the town, painting the walls, the sky, and the minds of its residents, rotting it all from the inside out. People are tucked away in Mike’s back pocket; he can pull and pluck whatever strings he wants to get things done to his satisfaction. Mike is impulsive, driven, and a man with as many fingers in as many pies as he can reach. Jeremy Renner is suited to the role and commands each scene. He plays the morally compromised lead well, and it’s nice to see him stepping away from blockbusters to help a lengthier, more intimate, realistic tale unfold. 

The pilot sets up Mike in a position characterised by grief and anger. Mike loathes Kingstown, but as a felon with no other skills, he doesn’t know to leave. He bends and breaks the law to keep people happy and so, when a new client begs for his help, he cannot refuse. The stage has been prepared and now, the game of daily survival begins. 

Mayor of Kingstown is streaming exclusively on Paramount+ now

by Kacy Hogg

Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favourite films include the Harry Potter series, CinderellaCaptain America: The Winter SoldierThe Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95

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