(Almost) all the L.A. references in ‘Mr. Mayor,’ explained
NBC’s “Mr. Mayor” stars Ted Danson as Neil Bremer, a rich businessman who finds himself elected as the leader of Los Angeles. The new series — created by Robert Carlock and Tina Fey of “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” — is peppered with L.A. allusions.
As TV critic Robert Lloyd writes in his review, though, “Mr. Mayor’s” comedy about the City of Angels is “carpetbagger humor” and may leave something to be desired for locals. So we decided to pit the sitcom version against the real thing.
Here’s a rundown of the key L.A. references in the pilot episode of “Mr. Mayor”:
Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, creators of “30 Rock” and “Kimmy Schmidt,” move operations west in the L.A.-based “Mr. Mayor,” with Ted Danson in the title role.
The mayor’s Spanish-language skills
What “Mr. Mayor” says: Before a speech, campaign manager Mikaela (Vella Lovell) reminds Mayor Bremer, “Please don’t try to speak Spanish again.” He responds, “It’s not my fault ‘pero’ means dog and but — that’s just goofy.”
The real deal: Of course, politicians’ halfhearted, unsuccessful attempts to speak Spanish in their speeches do not go over well, especially in a place like Los Angeles, where nearly half of the population is Latinx. But L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is not quite as hopeless as Bremer: by his own estimation, he speaks “good community meeting Spanish.” Also, “pero” means but; “perro” means dog. If we ran down the list of English words that sound similar but have wildly different meanings, we’d be here all day.
The Night Stalker
What “Mr. Mayor” says: Neil tells the press that he first came to L.A. with his girlfriend, an aspiring actress who didn’t make it in the business because “she was killed by the Night Stalker.”
The real deal: The Night Stalker was the name given to Richard Ramirez, who was convicted of 13 murders — as well as numerous rapes, assaults and burglaries — in the L.A. area in the mid-1980s. (A docuseries on the topic premieres on Netflix on Jan. 13.)
What “Mr. Mayor” says: Neil explains that he made his fortune in the business of billboards. “For 20 years, I gave you something to dream about while you were stuck on La Brea,” he says. “Scientology. Angelyne. For Your Consideration: ‘Nurse Jackie.’”
The real deal: “Famous for being famous” pioneer Angelyne rose to fame by plastering her photo on billboards around L.A. beginning in 1984. Known in particular for her pink Corvette, she went on to appear in a number of films and TV series. (Emmy Rossum portrays the local legend in an upcoming Peacock series.)
What “Mr. Mayor” says: Mikaela points out that Neil is not qualified to be mayor because “he thinks Santa Monica is part of Los Angeles.”
The real deal: Santa Monica, as we all know, is its own city in L.A. County and therefore has its own mayor.
Plastic straw ban
What “Mr. Mayor” says: Neil and his teenage daughter Orly (Kyla Kenedy), who is running for class president at her tony all-girls private school, argue about spearheading their respective straw bans.
The real deal: As of 2019, all Los Angeles restaurants are required to withhold plastic straws unless a customer requests one. The initiative is an attempt to reduce single-use plastic waste from littering beaches and waterways, and applies to restaurants of all sizes.
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What “Mr. Mayor” says: During an argument, Orly tells her dad, “I hate that you’re mayor, and I hate that we had to move into this gross old mayor house!”
The real deal: The official residence of the L.A. mayor is the Getty House, located in the Windsor Square neighborhood. The property was donated to the city in 1977 by the Getty Oil Co.
What “Mr. Mayor” says: Communications director Jayden (Bobby Moynihan) tells Neil that the proposed straw ban is upsetting the environmental council because “choking on plastic straws is an unofficial, cost-free way to control the coyote population.”
The real deal: Coyotes are omnipresent throughout California — with a population of up to 750,000, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife — resulting in numerous reported attacks each year.
Bob’s Big Boy
What “Mr. Mayor” says: Ultra-left-wing city councilwoman Arpi Meskimen (Holly Hunter) proposes taking down the Bob’s Big Boy mascot because “it whitewashes the labor pool and gives me sexual nightmares.”
The real deal: The mascot of the fast food chain, founded by Bob Wian in the 1930s, was sketched by an animator who frequented the eatery as a customer. Despite a recently proposed mascot change, Big Boy still stands in Burbank, the oldest surviving Bob’s Big Boy location.
What “Mr. Mayor” says: Arpi challenges Neil by asking, “I want to see your water bill during the 2017 drought.”
The real deal: For five years, the state endured significantly less rain than normal, cutting into the water supply and forcing the state to impose strict limits on water use. Still, more affluent areas used far more water per capita than less-wealthy communities, and celebrities were “drought-shamed” for their ultra-lush lawns.
What “Mr. Mayor” says: The episode ends with Neil in a slight state of shock. “Wait,” he says, “we’re hosting the Olympics?”
It's a date
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