Is ‘Mayor of Kingstown’ Based on a True Story? Real-Life Events Explained

Jeremy Renner as Mike and Dianne West as Miriam Mclusky Mayor of Kingstown Collage

“If failure of society could be distilled into one city, this would be the city,” Mile McLusky says in his monologue at the end of the second season. His words are the best description of Kingstown, a city where incarceration is the only industry that is working, and those that are not inmates either work in those prisons or rely on the events inside the prisons to survive. Mayor of Kingstown gives a unique perspective to the incarceration industry, which has left many fans wondering whether Kingstown is a real place and whether the show is based on a true story.

Taylor Sheridan and High Dillon created Mayor of Kingstown based on their different life experiences while growing up, making it a fantasy show. The town of Kingston in Canada, where Dillon grew up, has nine penitentiaries and two maximum prisons, and it is the biggest inspiration behind the show. The realism of the prison environment and the other scenes in the show are also inspired by real-life events that the creators experienced or read about, but they are tweaked for entertainment purposes.

It is difficult to find a city where all the vices of society thrive as they do in Kingstown but still has people like Mike McLusky fighting for it. It appears the McLuskys are fighting for a lost cause, but they are bonded to the town, making them prisoners in their own right. So, let’s delve into the real-life town of Kingstown and the events that inspire the interesting scenes in the show.

Is Mayor of Kingstown based on a true story?

Mike Ian and Stevie in Mayor of Kingstown 1

Mayor of Kingstown is a work of fiction based on Hugh Dillon’s hometown of Kingston, Ontario, which has nine penitentiaries, including a maximum prison. Hugh Dillon said that most people in the town are prison guards, police officers, or ex-convicts.

Witnessing the effect of the incarceration industry on people’s daily lives in Kingston inspired Dillon as he created the script for the Mayor of Kingstown with Taylor Sheridan’s help.

As far as Michigan is concerned, the state has no city called Kingstown. The village of Kingston in Tuscola County is the only place in the state with a name that resembles the troubled city in the show, but it has nothing in common with the show’s Kingstown.

Taylor Sheridan and Hugh Dillon designed most of the scenes around the individual actors’ personalities and interests, especially Miriam and Bunny’s scenes.

When creating the brotherhood around mike McLusky, including SWAT, Ian, and Kareem, Dillon said he based them on the brotherhood in his hometown that developed when people that have grown up together and know each other so well end up working together.

He didn’t give much away regarding the prison scenes, but he said he used to drive past a prison in his hometown every day and thought of life inside as some type of Disney when he saw the guard towers until he grew up and realized that it was the exact opposite.

Dillon designed the Kingstown experience based on what he felt whenever he saw convicted felons, he would see on the news for various crimes end up in his hometown.

The town always suffered the consequences of these people being incarcerated there, inspiring the dystopian mood around Kingstown.

With everyone he grew up around having been involved with the incarceration industry in one way or another, it is accurate to say that Mayor of Kingstown is the fantasy version of life in Kingston, Ontario, based on Hugh Dillon’s imagination and Taylor Sheridan’s creativity.

What is the inspiration behind the McLusky family?

mayor of kingstown mike kyle 1

The McLusky brothers are also based on High Dillon’s buddies while he was growing up in Ontario. It is unclear whether he knew of a family as connected as the Mcluskys in Kingston, but he designed Mitch, Mike, and Kyle around his bromance with his hockey playmates.

He said Mike Mclusky was based on a guy he grew up with who seemed to know everyone and get along with different types of people in the town. Unfortunately, the person passed away after a struggle with throat cancer.

Miriam McLusky, on the other hand, was mostly inspired by Dianne West herself rather than Dillon’s imagination of the character. Dillon said in an interview with Deadline that Dianne was “adamant” about the details of her character.

Dianne West went to protest at Riker’s Island and therefore had a clear idea of what teaching in prison feels like. She is also a real-life human rights activist, and Miriam’s character is based on her view of what a mother can do in a city full of racism, corruption, violence, and inequality.


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Dillon didn’t give any details as to why the McLuskys are so connected to Kingstown, but his own feelings towards his hometown probably inspire that.

As for Kyle McLusky, Dillon said he is a morally upright guy forced to work in the grey. He understands that his job is to maintain law and order, but he can’t help himself when his brothers call on him because that is the family business. The co-creator didn’t give any details regarding the real-life inspiration for Kyle.

Where is Mayor of Kingstown filmed?

The Kingstown Penetentiary 1

Most of the first season of Mayor of Kingstown was filmed in Canada, with the Kingston Penitentiary, which was closed in 2013, being used to shoot most of the prison scenes. The former prison complex is open to public tours since its closure, which made it perfect for filming.

The exterior view of the women’s prison where Miriam teaches is actually a water treatment plant based in Ontario. The interior scenes are also filmed at the Kingston Penitentiary.

The famous beach where Mike and Kyle meet is also on Hamilton beach. The first season was, therefore, closer to the city that inspired the entire show.

On the other hand, the second season was mostly filmed in Pittsburgh, with the old steel plant, Carie Blast Furnaces, being used to film the new Tent city prison in the wake of the riots in the first season.

The old Western Penitentiary in Marshall-Shadeland is used to film the prison scenes in the second season. It is also used as the Anchor Bay prison.


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Will there be Season 3 of Mayor of Kingstown?

mayor of kingstown season 2 episode 1 mike iris 1

Paramount is yet to announce the renewal of the Mayor of Kingstown for the third season. Renewal of the hit show is almost certain, though, since High Dillon told Deadline that he and Sheridan already had plans for more seasons of the show.

“Taylor and I have multiple ideas for multiple seasons. If everything went according to plan with Paramount+ and the rest of it, I think we’d start in August, September, maybe pre-production in the summer.” Dillon said regarding the third season in the January 2023 interview.

His comments mean that the show’s third season will likely be renewed any moment. The announcement of the second season came about a month after the season one finale aired, and the third season’s announcement could maintain the trend.

If everything goes according to his plans, fans can expect the third season of Mayor of Kingstown by the end of 2023 or early 2024.

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