Mare of Easttown is destined to become the next great crime drama. Much like True Detective first captured America’s attention in 2014, writer Brad Ingelsby weaves a tale of humanity, hopelessness, and guilt with a dark murder mystery. Mix that with a scintillating performance from Academy and Emmy Award winner Kate Winslet, haunting performances from a fantastic ensemble, and the result is one of the best shows of the spring.
Mare Sheehan (Winslet) has been a lifelong resident of Easttown, a suburb of Philadelphia. Mare is often reminded of her glory days back in High School as “Miss Lady Hawk.” Sheehan hit a miraculous shot to seal the state title for their beloved town. What we see now is a shadow of her former self. The years haven’t been kind to her, and the stress of her personal and professional life is taking a toll. Where most people know there’s a line between the two, Mare seems to not.
While every day, people remind her of that shot, most of her days are spent being reminded of all that went wrong in her life. Her son committed suicide. Her ex-husband is now looking to remarry. Mare (who is a detective) is now being targeted for not producing results in the disappearance of Katie Bailey. While she is sure that Bailey is dead at the bottom of a river, her mother is raising all sorts of hell. Faced with growing pressure, the chief of Easttown accepts help from a neighboring county in the hopes bring closure to the Bailey case.
Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) is the exact opposite of Mare. Zabel is a cheerful millennial who often speaks in cliches and seemingly has the hots for Mare. The chemistry between Peters and Winslet is off the charts and far exceeds that of any number of HBO crime series in the last few years. HBO has been searching for a show to fill that True Detective, and they found it.
Ingelsby’s narrative is a huge reason why Mare of Easttown will be a top-rated show. Unlike most crime shows, Mare of Easttown doesn’t primarily focus on the death or disappearances of these girls. The show focuses on the tragic circumstances surrounding almost everyone in the town. From divorces, single-parent homes, and untimely deaths, the trauma seemingly has no end. It’s hard not to develop empathy for almost everyone in the town immediately.
Winslet is devastating as Mare. While she wears many hats in the series from detective, mother, daughter, and ex-wife, the one that stands out is how she handles her son’s death. For someone who is so driven to seek the truth, Mare avoids that very thing as it pertains to her son. Perhaps she feels that if she acknowledges it, then the tragedy becomes too real. Winslet is perfect at striking that balance between maintaining appearances and the truth. Anyone looking for an example should check out Revolutionary Road.
What also stood out was Ben Richardson’s cinematography. Richardson seemingly made a concerted effort to capture the beauty of their city as a means of contrasting the tragic circumstances unfolding in Easttown. Whether it’s a tight shot of the city or a panoramic view of the skyline, it injects just the right amount of serenity into the storyline.
Shows like Mare of Easttown rarely come around, but they have the potential to capture the imagination of the entire country. This is appointment television! Clear your calendars. You’ll thank me later.