Mare of Easttown is a 2021 HBO series that’s supposed to be a murder mystery.
0 out of 10 stars. The first two episodes had promise but by the third episode they ruined the plot. It’s a shame that HBO consistently hires old white men to produce, direct, and write their shows. Clearly they don’t know much about the middle or lower class. The director, Craig Zobel, even named one of the characters after himself, Colin Zabel. Narcissist? Yep.
In episode 1 we meet Mare Sheehan, a detective in the small Pennsylvania town of Easttown. It’s mostly blue collar lower class people. Mare’s family is eclectic and abusive. Two years ago her son committed suicide and everyone blames Mare even though there is no evidence supporting that. Her high school daughter Siobhan is filled with hate toward her mother as well as a hefty dose of condescension. She’s in a lesbian relationship with a stoner in her rock band and seems to think someday she’ll be a rock star. Mare’s mother Helen lives with them to help Mare take care of four year old Drew, her son’s child. Drew’s mother Carrie is a mental patient and a drug addict. Mare’s ex-husband already has a new fiance and bought the house next door. He’s a high school teacher who has highly inappropriate relationships with his female students. Her cousin Danny is the parish priest and like the others, he also makes constant insults at Mare.
We also meet Erin McMenamin, a 17 year old girl with a one year old son DJ. So she was pregnant at 15 ( 9 months to carry the child plus a year to get a year old). Supposedly Dylan is the father, but Dylan treats Erin like trash. His girlfriend Brianna is an aggressive bully from an Italian family (her hair is dyed red). DJ has recurrent ear infections and needs tubes put in his ears, a common procedure for young children with constant ear infections. But Dylan won’t pay for it. Erin’s dad won’t pay for it either and both men are violent. A boy named Brendan has been texting Erin and lures her to Sharps Woods where the high schoolers go to hang out at night. Once she’s there, Brianna, Dylan, and about six other friends beat up Erin and film it to post on FaceBook. When Erin is on the ground, Brianna kicks her in the face and head repeatedly.
Less than two hours later, Erin is murdered, shot in the head and her body dumped in the creek. She was a loving mother, a sweet kid, and a beautiful person who adored her son. This role was beautifully acted.
In episode 2 Mare begins rounding up suspects. They get a tip about the video and Mare immediately arrests Brianna at her parents’ restaurant. Her father Tony stalks Mare for two days and throws a gallon of milk through her living room window, missing her head by inches. This type of violence is learned. Obviously, Brianna learned it from her dad. In what was a very sweet moment of real life, Helen brings Tony’s wife into their house to console her after Tony attacks Mare outside their house. Tony’s wife is the exact opposite of Tony, a kind and gentle person.
After being questioned by the police, Dylan is angry and goes out to buy cigarettes, a dumb move when you’re the prime suspect in a murder. Erin’s dad Kenny hides in his pickup, takes him to the forest, and shoots him twice. Unfortunately, Dylan is not dead. For what he did in the forest to the mother of his child, he should be.
At the end of the episode, Erin’s best friend and her mom go to Mare’s best friend Lori and tell her that she thinks Frank Sheehan, Mare’s ex-husband was the real father of Erin’s baby, not Dylan.
Mare questions Frank and asks him to take a DNA test. She also asks Dylan’s parents to ask Dylan for a DNA test. She accepts Kenny’s confession to killing Dylan then has to tell him that Dylan is actually still alive. And we get to know the county detective sent to help Mare, Detective Zabel. He’s actually a nerd, but a pretty nice guy. Not much to look at, but neither is Mare. And he genuinely treats her better than everyone else.
They get Erin’s cell phone records and discover her last call was to Deacon Mark who works with Mare’s cousin. Then they get an anonymous tip that Deacon Mark was transferred for inappropriate behavior. At the end of the episode he dumps Erin’s bike in the river. So he was among the last to see her alive if not the killer.
Mare learns that Carrie is suing for custody of Drew and does something that is so out of character, the writer must’ve been sleeping when he wrote this episode. She steals drugs from the evidence locker and plants them on Carrie. Then she’s caught by her boss. Rather than firing her, like he should have done, he puts her on administrative leave. :0
The Bad and the Ugly
So here are my gripes:
- Mare is constantly vaping throughout the series. Vaping is more dangerous than cancer-causing cigarettes. The vitamin E acetate in vaping destroys lung tissue. Why are you encouraging people to vape??? That is socially irresponsible.
- The ridiculous number of red herrings. A well planned plot makes it pretty easy to see the breadcrumbs/clues and figure out the killer. This writer thought he’d be clever and not include the important clues, just the dumb ones to lead to 9 different people. Really???
- Poor character development. Mare is brilliant one minute and a complete idiot the next. Kate Winslet’s acting as Mare is very one-note. She barely smiles or has any emotions at all.
- So much wasted time on subplots. Two of the red herrings are Frank’s fiance and Siobhan as suspects, since both would try to protect Frank from a paternity lawsuit. But so much time is wasted on Siobhan and her drugged up rock band. Why??? And please stop shoving their crap music down our throats.
- Inconsistent writing. In addition to Mare stealing drugs from evidence and planting them on Carrie, she also deletes a video recording showing a crime (vandalizing a fence). This is a crime. One minute she’s by the book and the next she’s breaking the law herself.
- Misogynistic story line. HBO has a history of all old white men producing, directing, and writing their shows. In addition, 99% of them are misogynists so their story lines are hateful and degrading to women. For three episodes my family had to endure watching an entire town dump all over a mother because her son committed suicide. That’s not normal. It’s not American either. If this town really existed, it should be burned to the ground if not for its treatment of Mare then for its treatment of Erin. HBO, stop mother bashing and stop hiring white male writers who hate their moms.
- Unnecessary subplots. A strong writer has fast pacing to keep the viewer watching. We were bored by episode 2. So many unnecessary subplots and sidelines that have nothing to do with the murder. It plays like a soap opera, not a murder mystery.
- No real people. No one in this series is realistic at all. It’s obvious the old white male director and writer know nothing about small town America. These are caricatures, not people.
0 out of 10 stars. I started HBO to watch this series and cancelled after episode 2. This is just a town full of woman haters. Don’t waste your time.