Monday With Mildred: “Mare of Easttown”

Mare of Easttown TV show poster

Mare of Easttown

I haven’t yet decided how I come down on tv series that only lasts seven episodes. I’m more used to it after having gotten hooked on British crime dramas, but it still feels a little jarring to get used to characters, watch them have one extended adventure, and then say goodbye. Stories that aren’t rushed for the sake of a 45 minute time limit is good, and the format doesn’t use the movies’ heated, pulsing climax as much. Plus, they’re cheaper so more of them are made. I also appreciate not having to watch several days of marathons (looking at you, Ion) to see how an arc plays out. After writing all that I guess now that I’ve given it some thought, I will come down on the “like” side.

The first thing you’ll notice is Kate Winslet’s much vaunted colloquial American accent. It’s from a strange area near Pittsburgh, which is equal parts bleak, ancient urban hard up against deep rural. Winslet plays the titular Mare, a beleaguered police detective with a permanent scowl and an addiction to vape. She’s battling the emotions caused by a personal tragedy, public scorn being heaped on her by a long-time friend, and maybe worst of all loads of praise that she in no way feels she deserves. The tone of the story is a little hard to decipher at first. Is it to be dark humor, or gritty and depressing? Before long you realize it’s pretty much the latter, especially after the heart breaking murder that kicks off the procedural part of the story. One thing you notice right off the bat is that Mare is not superhuman. I did laugh when in a later scene when she was limping with the wrong leg.

I was a smidge confused by her wardrobe, with the flannel shirts misleading me for a while. Before, during and after the procedural part of the story, we get a fairly substantial backstory of Mare and her slightly off kilter family, huge number of friends and acquaintances, and the hundreds of people she knows in the community. Her cop shaming old friend shares an annoyance a lot of her family feels toward Mare, who they feel should just get over her devastation. It remained unclear if even during the few lighthearted moments in the series if Mare even has a bright side, which confused me about the motivation for their feelings toward her.

There are a surprisingly large number of story arcs with great characters going on for a seven episode series, making the already deep diving series feel even richer and I found myself really caught up in everything, leading to me yell at the screen a few times to, “Run AWAY from him! Don’t DATE him!” Part of the deep dive is how well we get to know the victim before their death, making it one of many heartbreaking arcs. Since every single person in the series has major issues of some kind, the viewer might feel as if every single character is in some danger because of how well they introduced the murder victim.

A difference between the British shows I was comparing Mare to is the cinematography. Even during the grittiest moments of the grittiest series from across the pond, there’s always a very cinematic quality that this American show was lacking. The colors are a tad flatter, the music is more understated, and the camera angles are just enough more verité to give it an edge the British never quite manage. I feel comfortable with both styles, so I’m not complaining, but it’s just noticeable enough to mention.

Mare of Easttown is a very solid cop show with an unusually large amount of familial drama that weaves through every aspect of the story. Kate Winslet is only one of many exceptional actors, the story is deep and clever and heartbreaking with only a few bright moments to hold onto. I highly recommend seeing this series, which can be watched in a one day binge. Don’t expect a second season, though, because the makers have firmly quashed that idea.


CFR In Addition: I really liked this show – and I totally agree/understand with Mildred’s points. However my big problem with the show is a *SPOILER* so don’t read below if you haven’t seen the show.

River Song says "Spoilers."

I LOATHED the ending. Why? Well we find out the “killer” was a little boy. The child was already traumatized and sad and the person who was jailed, well, I had no sympathy for and he was protecting his child. So why, why, why did Mare put the child in the system? The child was a child of her good friend. Again, the child was traumatized and miserable and was clearly NOT a killer. It had been an accident more than anything. So that mad me very angry. Yes I know, true Justice must be served! But that just felt weak to me. And yes, that is just me.

Still a great show and hey, you may totally disagree with me and that is cool.


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