Mare of Easttown

Mare of Easttown on HBO Is the Best Thing on TV That You Haven’t Watched

Dept. of Small Town Shenanigans


No spoilers here, but let me start by saying that Mare of Easttown absolutely nails its ending. Because that’s what we’re looking for right now isn’t it? Something that properly rewards us for having put in the time and the effort of sitting through episode after episode. God knows there’s nothing worse that having invested so much of your life to a TV series or novel only to have it sputter out at the end.

I will tell you right now that this is nothing like The Undoing, which unfortunately spent its six episodes slowly building a tension that doesn’t quite pay off. In that series, the journey was far more fascinating than the destination, with an ending that was almost too easy to have any real emotional impact on the viewer. This show, on the other hand, is a masterclass in storytelling and suspense, where every element is executed with care and precision, resulting in what might just be the perfect seven episode arc.


This is the kind of show that makes me realize just how much mediocre filler there is on television. It is a reminder of how the vast majority of new releases that get dropped on us every week (I’m looking at you Netflix) are completely and utterly dispensable. Hell, I forgot about Halston while I was watching it.

Mare of Easttown is one of those rare things on television; a prestige drama series that isn’t based on any existing intellectual property, with beautifully crafted characters, equal parts grit, and heart, and humour, and a truly compelling mystery at its core.

Small Town Woman

Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet (in her next Emmy award winning performance) plays the titular Mare, a small town police detective who is besieged by her fair share of small town problems. Teenage girls are going missing. Drug and alcohol addiction are a way of life. Personal traumas are bottled up. Secrets and lies pervade every aspect of every life.

When we first meet the denizens of Easttown, we learn that they have already been deeply affected by the disappearance of a young woman named Katie Bailey. It is a singular event that has reshaped their lives. Certainly Mare’s. Who obsesses over the fact that she’s been unable to make any headway in solving this missing person’s case for over year. Little does she know that all of their lives are about to be thrown into disarray once again with the discovery of a dead body in a nearby creek.


Thus begins this whodunnit which, in the vein of Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies, dives head first into the effect that a horrific crime can have on a tightly knit community. Here, everyone’s problems overlap into a glorious study of one community and how it continues to endure in the face of such emotional strife.

This Is Everything Weekly Television Should Be

Mare of Easttown

When talking about movies and television, I try my best to not compare them to other mediums or art forms. They either force a false equivalence, or unfairly elevate one over the other. I get annoyed when critics say that a movie or TV show feels literary, because it implies that literature is something that these superfluous pop culture ditties should aspire towards. That said, when I tell you that watching Mare of Easttown felt like reading a good book, it isn’t a statement of quality, but rather a reflection of how finely detailed the show is in how it showcases its setting and its characters.


This is a series that isn’t afraid of its audience. It knows that you’re here and that you’re willing to put in the time. So why not give these performers the space to breathe real life into their characters. Growing them from small town caricatures, to actual people, with a lived history, and a deep seated sense of place in this deprived backwater of Pennsylvania.

And it works. I know just how invested I was in these lives by the time I reached the end of these seven episodes. I cared for these people. I wished them all better futures and better lives. Even the assholes. And if that isn’t a testament to great writing, I don’t know what is.

Mare of Easttown

I also love a mystery in which we see actual detective work taking place. If we are to believe that our Mare is, in fact, a capable sleuth, then we need to see her do some honest-to-goodness sleuthing. Far too many of these shows sacrifice the all important procedural elements for the sake of character conflict and drama. Mare of Easttown manages to find a great balance between the two, which results in every twist being earned, as well as an ending that is isn’t just satisfying, but also has the benefit of not breaking the narrative logic of the series.

A-mare-ican Dreams

I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the importance of what Kate Winslet does here. There are so many layers to her performance – her anger, her sadness, her filial responsibility, her sense of duty to this forsaken corner of America – and all of them come across with very little exposition and none of the melodrama you would likely see in a lesser show.

It feels almost silly to say that this is career defining performance for someone like Kate Winslet, who has spent her career, defining the very act of performance. She is one of our finest living actors and she is constantly surprising us at every turn. Here, she channels Mare’s emotional journey from episode to episode with such understated grace, with such workmanlike precision, that it is an absolute pleasure to watch.


Mare of Easttown is a true ensemble where the story of every character is woven together to form this intricate tapestry of tragedy, trauma, grief, and family drama. Even the smallest of supporting players feels like a resident of Easttown and not just a convenient device to move the plot forward. It made me count down the days until I could watch the next episodes. It had me curious as to how these locals were going to survive their lives. And the most exciting thing about it was that I had no idea “whodunnit” until they actually revealed who’d done it. What a joy.

You can stream all seven episodes of Mare of Easttown on HBO GO.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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