In the eyes of one who’s more than accustomed to watching murder movies, where a policeman or detective, as in this case, must solve a crime, the American miniseries ‘Mare of Easttown’, having been highly critically acclaimed may at first glance appear to be just another cop series. There’s a murder, in a small town, where everyone knows each other, and a detective who thrown herself headlong into finding the murderer. We’ve seen this storyline countless times before. It even sounds a little moth-eaten, reminding us of the typical county sheriff who, surrounded by suspects, tries to connect the dots and reveal the bad guy. The difference, in the case of this 7-episode HBO series, is that the cop’s a woman, and here… feminism prevails.
We see an independent 45-year-old woman who apparently doesn’t need anyone to run her life, and whose passion is her job. We are introduced to a beer-drinking detective, slugging on the iconic green bottle of Rolling Rock featured in countless shots, wears a sweatshirt most of the time, hair in a ponytail, barely wears makeup, and is the further thing from a housewife that you could get. The novelty of ‘Mare of Easttown’ is how it breaks down standardized roles. Actress Kate Winslet plays Mare, a detective from Easttown, a small and bleak Pennsylvania town, and although she carries around baggage from her life experiences, despite everything, she keeps on going and focuses on what she does best: her work, something she’s very good at and which also serves as a distraction from her ghosts.
And it is exactly this kind of character that make the series more realistic. There are no filters or facades. Her naturalness is what brings us closer to her. There are no high-heels or colored eye shadow. There are no jewels. There is no pomp. To the point that the actress –who is also a producer of the series– requested that her crow’s feet not be removed in the promotional posters (“I know how many I have”, says Winslet) and that in a sex scene with her partner, the actor Guy Pearce (impossible to forget after his stellar performance in ‘Memento’), insisted that the ‘bulgy bit of belly’ not be edited out. We are seeing someone just like us, with their wrinkles of expression and curves, their warts and all that bestows actual personality on our protagonist and allows us to get closer to her. It makes her human, like us.
The miniseries, created by Brad Ingelsby and directed by Craig Zobel –and which is already shaping up to be one of the series of the year– sparks several complex debates around issues such as sexual abuse in the Church, incest, rape or suicide; all of them extremely tortuous subjects, and which all run the risk of being treated with voyeuristic sensationalism. The production, however, faces them head-on and, in the case of suicide, sends a powerful message to audiences: get rid of that baggage. Don’t let your past, your fears, the things that torment you, bring you down. It’s important to face the past and ask for help: go to a psychologist, do therapy. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of how our mind can drag us into the deepest of mires, lead us into a chronic depressive state, and it’s important to understand how to get yourself out of there… before it’s too late. At a time when youth suicide rates are skyrocketing, it would seem that sparking this particular debate is more pertinent than ever.
That said, it’s not all drama in Mare’s life as the show features a couple of actors charged with providing the note of humor to the tragedy: her mother, played by Jean Smart (‘Watchmen’), and her co-worker, Evan Peters (‘X-Men’, ‘WandaVision’), as their relationship goes from hatred to affection as they get to know each other better. But, if there’s one person who stands out above all others, it is undoubtedly Winslet. Winner of an Academy Award, four Golden Globes, three Bafta Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Film Critics Award, an Emmy Award and a Grammy Award, Kate Winslet could unquestionably be in the running for more accolades for her stellar work in this miniseries, as the authentic –and untouched– Mare of Easttown.