Jun 22, 2017
These Five Teevee Mayors Could Kick Michael Bloomberg’s Ass All Over New York
Being mayor of New York City is a tough gig. There’s a lot of policy choices to be made — like, do you show you’re Tough On Crime by supporting cartoonishly racist stop and frisk practices? Or do you show you’re Tough On Crime by disappearing the city’s homeless population? As the mad king and slayer of soft drink portions Mike Bloomberg prepares to turn his job over to heir apparent Bill de Blasio, it’s time to reflect on what it takes to successfully run the Big Apple, and more importantly, how that job would be best done by any number of fictional television mayors rather than real politicians.
5. Mayor Wilkins, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
If voters can get past this candidate’s conservative background, they’ll find that he’s strong on family values, a regular, vaguely germaphobic guy, immortal and also sometimes a giant snake demon. Which is great! For the 100 days between the snake-demon Ascention ritual and transformation into said gargantuan snake demon, the mayor would be literally invincible. What better way to prove you’re Tough On Crime than by patrolling the streets yourself and personally massacring anyone caught doing crime? Or fighting it, for that matter? Or working on a political rival’s campaign? Or putting compost in the recycling bin? Mayor Wilkins would certainly get things done around New York. It’s just that probably a lot of those things would be murder, which keeps him at the bottom of our list.
Strengths: Temporary immortality, army of vampire minions.
Weaknesses: Teen girls, explosions, unpopular conservative platform.
4. Mayor Dwayne Milford, Twin Peaks
Mayor Milford doesn’t do much. He’s old, he’s confused, he’s feeble, and most of the time he wants to be napping. Because of this, at town hall meetings he hands the microphone over to whoever the hell knows what’s going on. That’s the kind of transparency New Yorkers love. If only the mayor straight-up admitted who was in control!
“Fellow New Yorkers: I’m pretty ambivalent on this bill myself, so I’m just gonna pass the mic to Shelly, the PR rep from a special interest group who will explain why I’m going to veto the shit out of it anyway. Take it away, Shelly.”
The honesty! The courage! And all that extra time for napping! It’s impossible to be corrupted by power when you admit that you have none — which is probably too Zen an attitude for New York, keeping Milford from topping the list.
Strengths: Transparent governing.
Weaknesses: Mind, body.
3. Mayor Adam West, Family Guy
While portraying the inarguably superior version of the Dark Knight (seriously, campy TV Batman is the best Batman and that is an incontrovertible fact, suck it Nolan acolytes) doesn’t technically qualify as political experience, it’s not West’s acting chops that would make him a good mayor. It’s the part where he’s a cartoon.
A cartoon mayor could do a lot for our fair city. He could, for example, reach into hammerspace and produce endless money to balance the city’s budget. And isn’t that why we elected Bloomberg to begin with? Cartoon Mayor West could also bounce back from scandals and gaffes scot-free, the consequences of the last half hour erased by the fresh reset of the next episode. Not being bound by traditional physics he could transcend time and space to always be on time for important meetings and presentations. Plus, you know, the awesome speaking voice.
Strengths: Access to the infinite potential of cartoon hammerspace.
Weaknesses: Uncertainty whether cartoon money works in real banks, is still technically Adam West.
2. Faceless entity, Law and Order
In an attempt to stay timeless in decades where on-screen cell phones date TV shows quicker than bad pop culture references, the Law and Order franchise alludes to a mayor but never explicitly names who it is. Perhaps we’re supposed to assume it’s whoever the mayor was at airtime, or whoever it is now, or maybe it’s irrelevant to the show. Regardless, the mayor of Law and Order’s New York City has one major, obvious advantage: his or her police force and district attorneys.
The level of successful arrests and prosecutions is absolutely staggering. And everyone’s so damn attractive. Even the criminals are sexy! The crime that goes on under this mayor’s watch is both consistently punished and sexy! All of the police officers are moral beacons, all of the district attorneys and assistant district attorneys righteous geniuses. Whatever this mayor did to accumulate an army of purely good civil servants — presumably huge salary hikes, or mafia coercion — it clearly worked.
Strengths: Tough On Crime, created jobs for hundreds of character actors.
Weaknesses: Faceless, ageless, potentially does not exist, leaving New York City to be run by a cabal of attractive guest stars.
1. Mayor Randall M. Winston Jr., Spin City
Let’s talk for a moment about the advantages of a sitcom Mayor. No matter how terrible the decisions he makes might be, no matter how ignorant he is about everything — the economy, gun control, that the Z train is actually an elaborate prank played on the outer boroughs by the MTA and never existed to begin with — the sitcom mayor will always prevail. Because he must, because it’s a sitcom, and unless the writing staff produces bi-weekly “very special” episodes featuring hate crimes and acts of domestic terror, the New York mayor Barry Bostwick governs will be an overall happy New York. Because it must be. Because it’s a sitcom.
Regardless of how badly Mayor Winston might goof up — say, misreading a speech that causes every taxi driver in the city to go on strike, or not upping MTA fares once every two years to appease the Blood Demons that live in the sewers — his supporting cast of slightly-less-inadequate subordinates will find a way to right his wrong in under half an hour. Remarkably efficient for a bureaucracy. The confines of television, in fact, allow for just about any mayor that isn’t explicitly evil to be a superior option to a flesh-and-blood human.
Even if the fictional mayor is as deeply if not more flawed than their real-life rivals, TV programs will always fail to portray the full spectrum of the complex issues that face New York City. Which means Mayor Winston can’t slash funding for homeless shelters, because that would be a poor premise for a sitcom episode. The city’s unemployment rate can’t skyrocket because that wouldn’t appease the laugh track. The democracy of democracy might allow for failure and cruelty but the democracy of television comedy ratings does not.
And, you know, Barry Bostwick has great timing. So that would be fun.
Strengths: Not bound by harsh, meaningless reality.
Weaknesses: Sitcom character, cannot actually be elected mayor.