Kate Winslet leads the cast in what is undoubtedly (so far) one of the best TV series of 2021.
On paper, 'Mare of Easttown' might sound like yet another run of the mill crime/drama with a big Hollywood name attached: Kate Winslet stars as a detective sergeant in a sleepy middle-American Pennsylvanian town who is tasked with solving the murder case of a young woman. That's all fine, with nothing crazy seemingly setting it apart from countless other detective shows we've seen over the years.
But, thankfully, 'Mare of Easttown' knows exactly how to keep us enthralled.
*Minor spoilers for episodes one and two below*
Kate Winslet and that accent
Kate Winslet hasn't helmed her own TV series in over 10 years ('Mildred Pierce') so it's refreshing to see her return to the small screen in between movies. As the potty-mouthed, beer-drinking, vaping, and deeply complex character of Mare, she shows us a side to her that we can't help but be captivated by. A woman who seems to have her sh*t together on the surface is slowly but surely letting others in - when she's not concentrating on her work. If the actor doesn't get nominated for multiple awards this forthcoming year, we're going to write a strongly-worded letter to someone. And don't even get us started on that accent - Winslet and her Philly droll was even paid tribute to in a recent 'SNL' sketch called 'Murdur Durdur'.
We could watch Jean Smart all day
Mare's interactions with her mother Helen is one of the highlights of the show - purely because Winslet and Jean Smart bounce off each other so perfectly. With four generations living under the one house, there's bound to be some friction, and it's often Jean's great-grandmother role in all of this that keeps the family in check. She may be a junk food fiend who sticks her nose in where it's not wanted at times, but nothing gets past her. The show would suffer immensely if this matriarch wasn't present.
A special shout-out goes to Evan Peters too, for hitting us with such a vulnerable, likeable character.
There's an inclusive cast - all with their secrets
Not only is Mare's family of Irish descent (with a name like Sheehan and a daughter called Siobhán, where else could they be from?), but there are also other pockets of society included in the show. Representation on the show is very strong, boasting a diverse range of both cast and characters.
As always, however, we never know who to really trust. The main focus for the detectives is the disappearance and murders of these young women from the area. Characters come and go from episode to episode (Guy Pearse, we're looking at you), while others remain somewhat in view, yet out of focus and mysterious. It's difficult to know who we can really trust, and who is there simply to be a red herring.
However, with the revelation from the fifth episode, it will be interesting to see what part of the mystery gets unearthed next.
It's so unglamorous
'Mare of Easttown' is very real. Part of the show's charm is that there's a distinct lack of "TV make-up" here, and the cold, drabness of it all just adds to the overall atmosphere of the show. Without such a great cast who are able to deliver pockets of comedy, the show wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable.
There are only two episodes left...
Without revealing anything that happened in episode five (it's still too early for us to digest that), at least we know that one piece of the puzzle has been solved. So that must mean it's time for everything else to finally fall into place?
Not likely. So far, it has been anything but plain sailing for Mare, so expect a few more surprises waiting for us as we head into the final two episodes.
'Mare of Easttown' releases every Monday on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW. The final will air on Monday, May 31.