Over the last few days I tore through all seven episodes of HBO Max’s acclaimed series, Mare of Easttown, an acting showcase for Kate Winslet, who gets to play a scuffed-up, hard-nosed, small-town Pennsylvania cop with a serious attachment to Rolling Rock and the f-word. Winslet is going to win a shelf-full of acting trophies for the role, because we all knew she’s a delicate English rose, not an embittered detective who tears the plastic top off a can of Cheez Whiz with her mouth.
The series is a pretty standard twisty whodunnit that, typically, throws a lot of energy into building plausible cases why various not-guilty people might be the killer and wraps up with a few hairpin plot turns. Enjoyable, but nothing special.
Here’s what I liked best about the series, though: Despite it being set among Catholics in Pennsylvania, in what you can tell from a glance is obviously Trump country, there are no references to Trump and no suggestions that Trumpism is the real killer behind everything. A Catholic deacon features as a suspect, but there is no suggestion that it’s the depravity of the Catholic Church that is the true menace. Nobody even throws in a cheap shot at fracking. The white working class is depicted fairly, neither spitefully nor satirically. There is, in short, no Chetwyndian “real enemy” pulling strings behind the curtain, no groaner of a sociopolitical point being made. It’s just a potboiler. Refreshing!