5 lessons ABC's The Mayor can take from other unlikely TV politicians

America’s had a cowboy for a president, and we currently have a reality TV star in the White House. Who’s to say an aspiring rapper couldn’t be mayor?

In the soon-to-launch ABC comedy The Mayor, created by Jeremy Bronson (The Mindy Project, SpeechlessLate Night with Jimmy Fallon) and executive produced by Daveed Diggs (Broadway’s Hamilton), newcomer Brandon Michael Hall plays Courtney Rose, a 27-year-old aspiring rapper who decides the best way to generate publicity for his upcoming album is to run for office in his California hometown of Fort Grey.

Courtney mugs for the cameras, has a few good sound bites during the debate, and accuses all the other candidates of being out of touch with the struggles of the townspeople. To his surprise, that’s enough to get him elected.

Courtney must have not been paying much attention during this past presidential election.

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The series will follow Courtney through his four-year term as he attempts to better his Bay Area town with the help of his no-nonsense mother Dina (Yvette Nicole Brown), loyal friends Jermaine and T.K. (Bernard David Jones and Marcel Spears), and his rival’s ex-campaign manager Valentina (Lea Michele). Only time—and the ratings—will tell if Courtney can make Fort Grey great again.

But Courtney doesn’t have to take all of his political cues from Reagan or Trump; other TV characters have blazed the trail for people with little to no political experience before taking office. Whether they delivered on their promises of hope and change or left with their approval ratings in the dumpster, these unlikely candidates could offer advice for Courtney Rose as he serves his first term.

1. Sideshow Bob, The Simpsons

Occupation Before Being Elected: Sidekick on a children’s TV show, prison inmate.

How Did He Get Elected? Sideshow Bob seemed poised to beat Mayor Quimby based on his popularity with voters and success in the televised debates, but Sideshow Bob rigged the election, claiming votes from dead townspeople as well as pets to ensure 100% victory.

Quote That Sums Up His Platform: “Your guilty conscience may move you to vote Democratic, but deep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king!”

How Did His Term Go? Sideshow Bob immediately abuses his power to make the Simpsons miserable by redirecting highway plans through their house and sending Bart back to kindergarten, which I’m pretty sure mayors don’t have the authority to do. Bart and Lisa do some digging and find evidence of his election fraud and trick Sideshow Bob into confessing in court.

Lesson to Learn: If you’re going to rig an election, don’t keep any records of your wrongdoing, and certainly don’t take them to the court where you’re being tried for election fraud.

2. Lillian Kaushtupper, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Occupation Before Being Elected: Landlady, part-time drug dealer, full-time eccentric.

How Did She Get Elected? Lillian got a running start on her run for East Dougmouth district council by hijacking Jacqueline’s press conference to announce her intent of keeping “rich, white a-holes” from cleaning up the local neighborhood too much with their gentrification. Lillian appeals to Kimmy, the only eligible registered voter in the district, and despite Jacqueline’s protests that the neighborhood needs improvements, Kimmy decides that she can trust Lillian to do what’s right for local residents. Lillian wins the election with 100% of the vote; no voter fraud necessary.

Quote That Sums Her Platform: “If I’m going to get stuff done in this neighborhood, it’s prison rules, baby!”

How Did Her Term Go? Despite Lillian’s, shall we say, enthusiasm for her position, all of her attempts to carry out her campaign promises are thwarted by the fact she’s consistently outvoted by the other city council members. Lillian attempts to filibuster a resolution to bring a new grocery store to the neighborhood, but is undone by Kimmy accidentally serving her Sleepytime tea. Luckily for Lillian, the grocery store owner, Artie Goldman, asks her to be his community liaison during construction and the two fall in love. So now, Lillian gets to protect the integrity of her neighborhood and she has a rich boyfriend.

Lesson to Learn: Although it’s understandable that you’ll want to stick to your convictions, sometimes you have to reach across the aisle to get things done. Plus, you might find a love interest over there.

3. Lois Griffin, Family Guy

Occupation Before Being Elected: Housewife, piano teacher, porn star.

How Did She Get Elected? At the town hall debate, Lois first tried to give smart, detailed answers about her plans for the city, but was quickly outdone by Adam West’s ability to charm the crowd with positive but nonsensical generalities. Lois switched tactics and copied him, sprinkling in references to Jesus and 9/11 to get the crowd’s attention and sympathy. This garnered her enough support to beat Adam West in the election.

Quote That Sums Up Her Platform: “9/11 was bad.”

How Did Her Term Go? At first, Lois made a pretty great mayor. She quickly learns to play the political game and raises enough money to clean up the local polluted lake, which was her reason for running for office in the first place. However, Lois decides that the best way to reward herself for all her hard work is to embezzle money to purchase a designer purse. Even worse, she also accepts a local oil tycoon’s offer to buy her an expensive fur coat in exchange for dumping oil runoff into the lake, a move that would have made Spiro Agnew proud. Thankfully, Lois comes to her senses and stops the deal. She confesses that she’s become corrupted by money and power and resigns as mayor.

Lesson to Learn: By all means, treat yourself—just not with government funds.

4. Pinky, Pinky and the Brain

Occupation Before Being Elected: Genetically-modified lab rat.

How Did He Get Elected? I’ve already covered Pinky’s meteoric rise to the presidency, but here’s a quick refresher: Pinky’s complaint about an unfunny Family Circus cartoon is misinterpreted by the local paper as a call for a return to family values, which gives him enough attention and popularity to announce a bid for president. With the help of Brain, Pinky goes on a whirlwind campaign tour and promises various groups that he’ll do anything to make them happy if elected. He hits a minor stumbling block during the debate when the machine Brain was using to type and send intelligent answers to Pinky malfunctions. However, the signals from the broken machine redirect Pinky to read off generic electronic messages that are snappy enough to whip the crowd into a frenzy.

Quote That Sums Up His Platform: “If we manipulate climatic variables with neutrinos to achieve agricultural equilibrium, you might just be a redneck.”

How Did His Term Go? Pinky didn’t get a lot done during his administration. Although he had a detailed plan for his first day in office (congratulate Super Bowl winners, call astronauts on the Shuttle, wait for the cable guy), his term became quickly embroiled in scandal. A rival uncovered Brain’s book of world domination plans (what is it with evil geniuses and their insistence on leaving a paper trail?), and Pinky decided to save his friend from imprisonment by claiming the plans were his. Pinky is impeached and leaves office disgraced, but he still has his best friend.

Lesson to Learn: Don’t pick your friends for important government roles, especially if they keep detailed records of their plans for world domination.

5. Binky Barnes, Arthur

Occupation Before Being Elected: Elementary school student.

How Did He Get Elected? The class president election was only supposed to involve Arthur and Muffy, but Binky caught the voters’ attention by mock-snoring after the debate. He complained that Arthur and Muffy were boring candidates and stated that if he were running, he would make more interesting proposals like banning homework, letting the kids eat snacks in class, and letting everyone have one day off per week with no questions asked. All the kids liked the sound of that, and the teacher Mr. Ratburn decided to use Binky’s sudden popularity as an example of a write-in candidate. Even though Muffy and Arthur spent a longer time campaigning, the voters were charmed by Binky’s brash personality and big promises, and he won the election.

Quote That Sums Up His Platform: “If elected, no more homework and you can eat snacks in class whenever you want!”

How Did His Term Go? Since this was a mock election, Binky didn’t get any real power after his win, much to his disappointment. It’s never shown how his constituents feel about his unfulfilled promises, but Binky was clearly disheartened that none of his ideas would ever materialize.

Lessons to Learn: Don’t go too wild with campaign promises. After all, you never know how much power you’ll have when you’re in office.

Susan Velazquez

Susan is a recent college grad and writer who enjoys all things from the 1980s, snarking on dumb television, and reveling in celebrity gossip. Oh, and she has serious interests like reading historical fiction, getting involved in social issues, and consuming French fries.

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  • Chefe O’Hara

    In comics, Fethry Duck got elected mayor in a collective dream sequence of Disney characters (Donald, Daisy and Gladstone). Being him who he is, his term was as disastrous as you can imagine.

    [The story, made by Disney’s Brazilian Studio, was a satire on the state of politics at São Paulo City, mainly the impredictability of then-mayor –and ex-president– Jânio Quadros, with his crazy statements and arguments with allies (who soon became ex-). Kind of a model for another Donald in the real world.]