Mare of Easttown Review: Is Mare of Easttown Worth Watching?

In Easttown, Pennsylvania, a community where most people know each other by their first names, young women continue to vanish.

The familiarity among the grimacing residents is not always or even frequently amicable; if someone knows the traumas you have been through, they are just as likely to use them or shove them in your face on a bad day as they are to commiserate with you. Cancer-stricken Dawn Bailey (Enid Graham), the mother of a missing girl, learns this lesson the hard way.

Dawn receives calls from a stranger seeking a king’s ransom for Katie’s location, an obvious attempt at extortion that she is oblivious to. The calls come after she criticizes the town’s police for failing to recover her daughter when she disappeared years ago.

Occasionally, the young women return. The majority of the time, however, they remain missing, leaving behind grieving moms, broken families, bewildered young children, and an angry community. Those with the ability to depart have already left or have plans to do so. What is left is a place whose future is being plundered, as its number of women decreases, leaving their children orphaned or cared for by those tired by grief.


The HBO series Mare of Easttown is both a town picture and a crime drama. The seven-part limited series starring Kate Winslet as detective Mare Sheehan is reminiscent of Happy Valley, Sally Wainwright’s (much superior) BBC/Netflix show about a middle-aged female cop who frequently appears to be the only person holding together her drug-ravaged working-class town, even as its dysfunctions follow her home. Similar to Sarah Lancashire’s Catherine Cawood on Happy Valley, Mare was responsible for raising her toddler grandson, Drew (Izzy King), when his parents fell victim to drug addiction.

Mare of Easttown Review
Mare of Easttown Review

Mare’s mother Helen (Jean Smart in a fright wig), who naturally gets under her daughter’s skin more than anyone else, aids her in raising Drew and her surviving child, college-bound Siobhan (Angourie Rice).

Kate Winslet, who portrays a 19th-century fossil hunter whose work was co-opted by men in her new film ‘Ammonite,’ believes that the next decade will be, and must be, the decade of women supporting and advocating other women without reservation and without judgment. She was photographed in Sussex, England on August 20.

Mare of Easttown is most engaging when it adheres to the Happy Valley model of illustrating how its titular character is both a product of and an outlier in her hometown — and noticeably falters when it hews closer to tropes such as a love triangle that traps its female protagonist between two thinly drawn, relentlessly devoted men (Guy Pearce and Evan Peters).

All episodes are written by Brad Ingelsby, who grew up in a small town near the actual Easttown, Pennsylvania, and directed by The Hunt and Z for Zachariah filmmaker Craig Zobel.

Disappointingly, as the plot unfolds, the slice-of-life element that so defines the series — and drives Mare into awkward situations with neighbors or ex-classmates she’s plainly known for years — gradually fades away. The more we learn about the young women who vanish, the more human they become, making the midseason introduction of a frightening but one-dimensional antagonist feel like he was plucked from a completely different show.

Mare of Easttown Review
Mare of Easttown Review

And at least in the chapters released to critics for assessment (HBO sent five), Ingelsby portrays a cumulative accumulation of devastations in Mare’s life that borders on tragedy porn. There is a delicate line between grit and farce, and it is unclear if Ingelsby has a good grasp on its location.

Ingelsby and Zobel do a considerably better job of describing the dynamics among the townspeople than within Mare’s family, despite their off-putting fascination with the Easttown residents’ junk-food habits. Smart is wasted as the trash-talking grandmother, and the mother-daughter relationship between Mare and Helen is appealingly snappy but lacks definition, especially when compared to Catherine’s delectably thorny relationship with her addict sister (Siobhan Finnegan) on Happy Valley.

Detours into the lives of Easttown’s more affluent adolescents were likely intended to act as tonal and social contrasts, but ultimately appear superfluous.

An early episode in which Mare herself abuses her police powers renders her nearly impossible to support as a law enforcement officer, even as a highly damaged antiheroine. It is difficult to become immersed in anything that frequently disrupts our suspension of disbelief.


Nevertheless, Ingelsby and Zobel are able to cast their spell through superb cliffhangers and shocking plot twists, one of which caused me to leap out of my chair.

Winslet doesn’t completely disappear into the role — her English accent comes through too often for that — but she serves as a solid, no-nonsense anchor for the series, which features several missing-persons cases and a cast of dozens, including Julianne Nicholson as Mare’s best friend Lori and David Denman as the detective’s mercurial ex-husband Mark. Despite its inconsistency, Mare of Easttown’s abilities enable it to overcome its numerous obstacles.

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Mare of Easttown Trailer

HBO releases the teaser for the new limited series Mare of Easttown, which is directed by Craig Zobel and stars Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce.


Does Mare of Easttown Merit a View?

This performance is not to be missed! I am astounded by how much I enjoyed Mare of Easttown. It follows a Pennsylvania homicide detective from a tiny town whose life unravels while she investigates murders. She is also a basketball hero in her hometown, so the entire town knows her.

is Mare of Easttown Based on Fact?

As a lover of true crime stories, I may have plagiarised a few things over the years,” Ingelsby tells Town & Country. “However, there was no single case that inspired the series.”

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