It’s often that shows that we least expect are the ones who manage to grab the world’s attention. In 2014, very few anticipated just the buzz and interest True Detective was able to generate. The following seasons were, in a way, destined to fall short because of inflated expectations. Many shows have attempted over the years to recapture that magic. Most recently, Perry Mason came awfully close to pulling off but managed to fizzle in the end. Well, I’m happy to report the next great crime drama has arrived.
Mare of Easttown, which begins a limited run on HBO tonight at 10:00 pm, is destined to become the nation’s next great obsession. Writer and Show Runner Brad Ingelsby’s tale of humanity, hopelessness, and guilt is appointment television viewing. What makes the show special is how he seamlessly weaves those elements into a dark murder mystery creating something so unique that it’s impossible to take your eyes off the show. Mix that with a scintillating performance from Academy and Emmy Award winner Kate Winslet and haunting performances from a fantastic ensemble, and the result is one of the best shows of the spring.
Mare (Winslet) is a lifelong resident of Easttown, a suburb of Philadelphia. Mare is often reminded by others of her glory days back in High School as “Miss Lady Hawk.” Every time someone brings up her amazing shot to win the state title, it immediately reminds Sheehan how her life has gone to hell since that fateful game. She’s divorced, her relationship with her daughter is strained, her son committed suicide a year ago, and she’s been thrust into the role of being a parent of a young boy once again. Making matters worse is the news that her ex-husband (played by David Denman) is planning to remarry. It seems as if life is at a standstill for her while others are moving on. But does she even want to move on?
Her defense mechanism is to bury herself in her work as a detective. The line between her personal and professional life is blurred, and Mare doesn’t know how to turn it off. However, it seems her one refuge from reality is becoming less than pleasant. Protests begin to grow over the lack of results in locating Katie Bailey, who went missing a year ago. Mare is convinced that she’s at the bottom of a lake, but the Chief with little option than to accept help from a neighboring county in the hopes of bringing closure to the Bailey case.
Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) joins Mare in hopes of bringing an end to the mystery. Zabel is cheerful, energetic, and full of youthful exuberance. Mare can’t stand him at first. The chemistry between Peters and Winslet evokes memories of Harrelson and McConaughey from 2014. HBO has been searching for that next big breakout crime show, and they now have it.
Ingeslby narrative is a huge reason why everyone will fall in love with Mare of Easttown. While most crime dramas focus on the act, this show focuses on the tragic circumstances surrounding the principal players of this story. It’s hard not to feel a connection with the characters in this story. Winslet is brilliant as Mare. She is utterly devastating as a woman in grief, unable to confront her own truth while seeking that for others. Mare might not want to discuss what drove her son to end his life, but nothing will stop her from finding who out ended Erin’s. An award season push for Winslet down the line is certainly going to happen. Could we be saying two-time Emmy and Oscar winner Kate Winslet?