With the TV film “The Mayor” ZDF takes up a burning topic.
Frankfurt am Main – The new narrative forms of the streaming platforms, according to a confusingly worded contribution to last year’s “Television Yearbook”, promise “the chance for a new world view”. Not a bad thing, but looking at the world shouldn’t be forgotten about looking at the neighborhood. ZDF, in particular, has already made several efforts to address this issue, with series such as “Deutscher”, “Schlafschafe” and “Twin House”. All are still available in the ZDF media library. Everyday racism is negotiated there, the rejection of everything supposedly foreign, the gradual creeping of right-wing nationalist positions into a communal environment, to the point where hatred arises and turns into violence.
“The Mayoress” (ZDF): Thankless commitment
The ZDF editorial team, Fernsehspiel, is currently also picking up on the subject. Claudia Voss (Anna Schudt) is the honorary mayor of Neustadt-Linden. She takes care of artificial turf for the sports field, construction site planning, the weeds in the cemetery. Volunteer, committed and self-sacrificing. When she cycles to her husband’s carpenter’s workshop after the citizens’ consultation hour, where she does the bookkeeping and writes offers, Peter Voss (Felix Klare) knows without asking too much that she hasn’t eaten anything.
In the evenings she often sits over administrative matters such as the financing concept for the new medical center, usually with her predecessor Gerhard Zöllner (Uwe Preuss), who is at her side in an advisory capacity.
At first she only hears the rumour, then she is confronted with a fait accompli: a refugee home is to be set up in Neustadt-Linden. The local advisory board was not informed, possibly intentionally, as indicated in the conversation with the mayor.
Veith Landauer (Alexander Beyer) is a member of the local advisory board, creates a feeling of opposition to the accommodation of the refugees during the meeting and immediately publicizes his rejection in order to profit politically with relevant slogans. He cannot offer a factual programme, but he can offer dull resentments. Voss remains optimistic: “This is still our little Linden. We’ll catch that again.”
“The Mayoress” (ZDF): The Federal Criminal Police Office advises
Dissatisfaction, insecurity, feelings of inferiority find a welcome outlet. The displeasure is directed at Claudia Voss, who has pleaded for a humane treatment of the refugees. Landauer accuses her of acquiring the refugee home. He knows that’s not true, but that doesn’t stop him from fanning the initially smoldering rejection.
And it is aimed at Claudia Voss, and soon also at her family. There are hate comments on the web, pointed remarks – “Frau Chancellor” – at the bakery, obscene phone calls. Daughter Leonie (Jule Hermann) receives a letter with faeces. Sent by people who accuse others of lack of civilization and barbarism. But logic and common sense don’t stand a chance in this climate.
It got to the point that the Federal Criminal Police Office made representations and recommended protective measures: shutters, fire extinguishers, surveillance cameras. No outdoor sports. And check the wheel nuts before every car trip.
Claudia Voss remains brave but not unaffected.
“The Mayoress” (ZDF): Shocking balance sheet
“It’s so easy to be against something. Being against everything,” says Claudia Voss once, and in Anna Schudt’s interpretation of the character, sentences like this don’t sound pedantic at all. Screenwriter Magnus Vattrodt has ninety minutes of airtime available. Inevitably he had to condense, accelerate gradual processes. Nevertheless, he and director Christiane Balthasar manage to achieve a certain degree of authenticity in the character drawing, as well as in the description of bourgeois coexistence and local political practice.
To the broadcast
“The Mayor”, Monday, October 24, 2022, 8:15 p.m., ZDF and in the ZDF media library.
Figures like the hate preacher Landauer, his followers, the young perpetrators are not pulled out of thin air. In the credits, the producers provide figures: 57 percent of all German mayors were insulted, threatened and even physically attacked in 2021. Uninvolved people from their private environment were also affected. In larger cities, 75 percent of the mayors had to defend themselves against such hostilities. We are talking about terror in the very meaning of the word. Not in dark romantic horror and fantasy series, but directly in our society. With fatal consequences for civic engagement in local politics.
Before one loses oneself in “new worldviews”, it is better to intervene with the old ones, as the Mainz broadcaster did with this example. (Harold Keller)