“I had a very specific vision. I wanted to tell a story about home and the people I grew up with and yet make it entertaining and wrap a mystery around it.”—Brad Ingelsby, screenwriter and creator, Mare of Easttown.
Brad Ingelsby, the Emmy®-nominated creator and screenwriter of the HBO limited series, Mare of Easttown, didn’t have to dig too deeply to recreate the Central PA working-class milieu that drives the series’ gripping family drama and murder mystery. He grew up in the vicinity.
A microcosm of small town, blue collar America, Easttown, PA, is awash with vintage row houses, cookie cutter mid-century split levels and neighborhood bars. The distinctive dialect, deeply rooted Catholicism and faded memories of past basketball triumphs forever bind the town’s citizenry. The abduction of two young women and the murder of another open a Pandora’s box of long-standing secrets and lies that threaten to upend the town’s faux complacency–familial depression and suicide, teen pregnancy and prostitution, rape and marital infidelity–much of it tragically fueled by drug and alcohol abuse.
Following in the footsteps of her beloved dad, seasoned Detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) is theoretically positioned to save the day. But she is deadened by grief over the suicides of her dad and son and fearful of losing custody of her tiny grandson. As she slowly works to overcome her demons, her skills as a detective begin to shine through. The seven episode series builds in intensity as Mare and her affable colleague, Colin Zabel (Evan Peters), investigate the murder and double abduction.
This is powerful stuff. It’s a rare and welcome family drama and murder mystery focusing on flawed, resilient three-dimensional characters, most especially women, who as friends, lovers, mothers and daughters of all ages carry the ball to the finish line.
I can’t remember when I’ve seen female relationships more sensitively rendered on screen. It’s moving to watch the interplay between Mare (Kate Winslet) and her childhood friends, especially her best friend, Lori (Julianne Nicholson); Mare and her sassy mom, Helen (Jean Smart); Mare and her grandson’s troubled young mom, Carrie (Sosie Bacon); and Mare and her college bound daughter, Siobhan (Angourie Rice), whose lesbianism is refreshingly never an issue. I truly hope that these women (the characters and the actresses who play them) will return to Easttown and HBO for a second season.
Mare of Easttown is destined to have a long shelf life in college and university classrooms and grief and drug counseling programs, as well as in film screenwriting, directing and acting classes. The series has been nominated for 16 well-deserved Emmy® Awards, including series creator/screenwriter Brad Ingelsby, director Craig Zobel, and four of the series’ actors–Kate Winslet, Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart and Evan Peters.
Although the drama debuted in April and May 2021, you can catch a marathon rebroadcast of HBO’s seven-part series Mare of Easttown today, Saturday, August 14, 2021, from 12 Noon – 6:00 p.m. ET/PT. The series is also available on HBO On Demand and streaming via HBO Max. Be sure not to miss it! –Judith Trojan
And the Winners Are…
Mare of Easttown swept the 73rd Annual Emmy® Awards in the “Acting in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie 2021” categories on Sunday, September 19, 2021: Outstanding Lead Actress (Kate Winslet). Outstanding Supporting Actor (Evan Peters). Outstanding Supporting Actress (Julianne Nicholson). Mare of Easttown also won Emmys for Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (one hour or more). Bravo, Mare!–Judith Trojan