REVIEW: Five gritty reasons to rewatch ‘Mare of Easttown’

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***SPOILERS (SORTA)***

Surprisingly, HBO did not tease its audience and hold back the final episode of the rivetingly raw “Mare of Easttown” until next week, after the holiday weekend, as it has oft done in the past with other shows.

There were a flurry of theories that came out about who the murderer of tragic teen mom, Erin McMenamin, was, which only fueled the tension of Episode 7, which seemingly revealed the killer early, only to have a brilliantly somber twist.

With every good murder mystery, the rewatch allows the viewer to pick up on the clues and easter eggs laid out by the director to see how truly masterful of a storyteller the production team is.

But “Mare of Easttown” is really a period drama disguised as a murder mystery. While “Saturday Night Live” had fun with the specific and distinct Pennsylvania accent that the actors mastered in their skit, “Murdur Durdur,” “Mare of Easttown” is a portrait of so much of America and what has plagued everyday people into despair.

So now that “Mare of Easttown” has concluded, you can binge-watch all seven episodes again to see all the little clues you missed the first time around and truly delve into the psychologically rich characters that came to and lost life.

Here are five gritty reasons to rewatch “Mare of Easttown”:

5)        Anthropological curiosity

Costume designers on the show went to Wawa’s (ubiquitous convenience stores in Pennsylvania) to get ideas for the wardrobe and Kate Winslet reportedly began an obsession with the chain and in one of the most endearing scenes hoovers an ill-looking cheesesteak. The accent work is superb and refreshing to hear as its not generic “standard American” from a nameless town.

4)        The community connection of police

The opening scene of “Mare of Easttown” is her checking in on an elderly couple who have complained of a suspicious figure in a black hoodie. While she does her duty and inspects the claim, there is a tiredness about her that makes these calls about the mundane seem commonplace. Even during the murder investigation, light music plays while Mare and Zabel interview a variety of teenagers about what went on that fateful night whose responses range from abrupt vulgarity to saccharine non-statements. Mare is often chasing after the same perpetrators, like Freddie, and desperately trying to resolve the issue with fixes that she knows won’t last.

When we get to the suspect of the missing girls, it’s old-fashioned door-to-door (that proves fatal) police work that gets the job done.

 3)        Doe-eyed Evan Peters in, for once, an everyman character

Known for his flamboyant, eccentric, and murderous roles (he’s got an upcoming biopic of Jeffrey Dahmer), Peters often plays the exalted troubled soul to maximum-body-count effect, but in “Mare of Easttown,” he plays a mild-mannered, gently spirited, and puppyish detective who is unsure on his feet, but pure in his heart. Peters gets to show his acting chops in subtle and human ways for once instead of pure theatrics into madness.

2)        Address of the opioid epidemic sans judgment

With sobering statistics on the lives, especially young lives, lost to the opioid epidemic, a portrait of the effect this has on the family is fleshed out with deaths and consequences that take a toll on the addict and anyone tragic enough to love them. Of course there is the weight of Kevin Sheehan’s death that looms over the entire family, but perhaps the most powerful scene is one where Mare tries to keep Kevin and his girlfriend from stealing money to buy drugs: she is at the end of her rope and tired of the cycle, but ponders if death were the preferable state to being terrorized. While more backstory, Bethie and her troubled addict brother, Freddie, offer a hard look at the sacrifices made by the family to keep the afflicted afloat despite their harrowing choices. When Freddie passes, Bethie uses his death as an opportunity to breathe life into someone who has more hope.

1)        People who look like everyday folks

Vogue called Kate Winslet’s Mare Sheehan the “fashion icon of the pandemic” with her drab, almost pajama-like clothes, and her (at least) 5 inches of dark roots. The characters in “Mare of Easttown” are not only de-glamorized actors, but realistic looking ones. They’re not overly under-done, but the trappings of regular life are allowed to be seen on their faces. Even the younger actors are drab and familiar, with Mackenzie Lansing’s, the jealous and mouthy Brianna Del Rasso, smug pug face as a clear indication from casting that the audience was meant to feel like they were looking at their neighbors and not Hollywood stars pretending to be small-town folk.

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