'Mayor of Kingstown' Isn't a True Story, Has Real-Life Parallels

Is Mayor of Kingstown a true story? No, but the new Paramount+ crime drama has real-life parallels.

Dan Clarendon - Author

Nov. 12 2021, Published 11:56 a.m. ET

The new Paramount+ series Mayor of Kingstown isn’t a true story—for starters, the setting of Kingstown, Mich., is fictional—but the crime drama does have ties to reality for co-creator Hugh Dillon.

Dillon, a Canadian singer and actor known for his roles in Flashpoint and Yellowstone, grew up in the city of Kingston, Ontario, a city once known as King’s Town. However, the two towns’ similar names aren’t the only similarity.

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Just like the onscreen town, which is saddled with seven prisons, Kingston also has a tight concentration of penitentiaries. Dillon told TV Insider earlier this month that there were nine such facilities operating there during his childhood. “Growing up in a place like that does something to you,” the actor observed.

"Mayor of Kingstown" takes place in a city where “incarceration is the only thriving industry.”

Mayor of Kingstown, premiering on Paramount+ on Nov. 14, “follows the McLusky family—power brokers in Kingstown, Mich., where the business of incarceration is the only thriving industry,” according to its synopsis.

“Tackling themes of systemic racism, corruption and inequality, the series provides a stark look at their attempt to bring order and justice to a town that has neither,” the synopsis adds.

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Dillon, who co-created the show along with Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan, stars in Mayor of Kingstown opposite Jeremy Renner, Dianne Wiest, Kyle Chandler, Derek Webster, and Aiden Gillan, among others.

Renner plays the reluctant mayor of the town, for whom there isn't a possibility of escape. “He doesn’t want to f—king be there,” the actor told Paste recently. “[But] there’s the bleakness of the thing, and you don’t know what else to do. This is all you know, in your life, right? When you grew up in a town of prisons where everything in the town is about incarceration… you know, it’s like, what else do you do? Where else do you go?”

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Renner also said, “All your life is known and built around this sort of environment. And these people are products of that environment. So there’s a sadness and acceptance of this sort of thing.”

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The prisons of the fictional Kingstown, Mich., are a take on the real-life prisons of Kingston, Ontario.

According to the Kingston Herald, Kingston, Ontario, was originally named King’s Town in 1787 in honor of King George III. The newspaper also reported that Kingston, Ontario, has the highest concentration of prisons in Canada.

One of those prisons, Kingston Penitentiary, has other Hollywood ties. The prison, which closed in 2013, has been a filming location for the TV series Star Trek: Discovery, DC’s Titans, and Murdoch Mysteries.

According to Canada’s Penitentiary Museum, the Kingston area had 10 penitentiaries at its peak—maximum-security facilities Kingston Penitentiary, Regional Treatment Centre, and Millhaven Institution; medium-security facilities Collins Bay Institution, Bath Institution, and Joyceville Institution; minimum-security facilities Isabel Macneill House, Frontenac Institution, Pittsburgh Institution; and the multi-use Prison for Women facility.


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