The 50 Best TV Shows of 2021, No 3: Mare of Easttown | Television

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Kate Winslet was reluctant, moody, and utterly fascinating as Marianne “Mare” Sheehan, the detective bearing the brunt, not only of her own family trauma, but of her entire town in Mare of Easttown. She had lost so much: her husband Frank and her son Kevin, who had recently committed suicide. Additionally, her grandson Drew could be taken away by his recovering drug addict mother. At one point, Mare’s mother said to her, “This is what I wish you, Marianne – that you can forgive yourself for Kevin. It wasn’t your fault. This was not your fault. “” Yeah, “Mare replies.” I’ll use the bathroom. “

Mare was also investigating the murder of young mother Erin McMenamin and the kidnappings of two other potentially related women. Everyone was in the frame: Erin’s abusive father, her ex-boyfriend, the shady deacon, uncle, even Mare’s ex-husband. And this is how for two months of 2021, Mare-mania imposed itself. There was some crazy speculation about who killed Erin – and if anyone could ever fork out some cash for her poor baby’s ear surgery. There were countless stories of what was arguably Winslet’s best performance, as well as her refusal to cover her “bulging stomach” during sex scenes. There was the Sending off Saturday Night Live, called Murdur Durdur, who nailed the Philadelphia accent just like Winslet.

The Easttown mare could easily have fallen into a tortured police officer investigating the territory of a dead teenager. Instead, it was a thriller that blinded viewers from start to finish – and had so much more. It was thrilling: tense, siege-bound stuff, perfectly paced with lots of twists and cliffhangers. It was also a lot of fun: the usually bittersweet Mare stitches her mother Helen after a man blurted out at his wife’s funeral that he had had an affair with her; Mare googling how to care for a pet turtle for Drew when she should have been at work; Helen falling from her chair after too many Manhattans with her cousin the priest.

However, it’s the love infused into the script – the depth and detail of every character arc and subplot – that sets it apart. Writer Brad Ingelsby grew up deep in Pennsylvania, and it shows every second, from cheese steaks to small town gossip channels. Even seemingly minor moments delivered some of the most gruesome TV scenes of all time: when we feared Drew’s mother would let him die in the tub; when Mare undressed her exhausted daughter Siobhan who cried “This should have been you”, referring to the day she came home to find her dead brother. In the end, as the full tragedy of each character was laid bare, it was a miracle that someone was still standing.

No less Mare. The scenes with her therapist were devastating, as she finally revealed what happened the day she found Kevin’s body in their attic. In another, Winslet saying next to nothing made me cry again: the therapist asks her if she’s worried that her grandson will become depressed or mired in mental health diagnoses like her father and son. “Oh my god yeah,” she said quietly, communicating in just three words a fear of a legacy trauma that other shows would have needed pages of dialogue to convey.

Winslet said she wanted middle age laid bare in Mare, and she succeeded. Everywhere, millions of overworked women have felt seen. The fact that Mare was a high school basketball heroine 25 years ago – Miss Lady Hawk herself! – is a perfect summary of how life crushes people. One night over drinks with tiny detective Colin Zabel, she says: “I never expected life around me to collapse so dramatically.”

It was a heartbreaking and heartbreaking portrait of grief. Ultimately, Mare of Easttown showed mothers’ desperate efforts to protect their children from the hellish things the world can inflict – and the need for women to forgive themselves if the worst should happen. In her extraordinary final moments, when Mare manages to climb the ladder again in the attic, we finally see her allow herself an inch of forgiveness – and maybe start to heal.


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