‘Mare of Easttown’: A Contemporary Outlook on the Mystery-Thriller Genre

HBO has done it again, giving audiences a hard-hitting mystery thriller that goes deeper than any show before it. “Mare of Easttown” somehow stays true to its genre, while still managing to create a fully realized character study for the titular role of Mare (Kate Winslet). Defined in seven chapters, the show follows the investigation of a recently murdered teen and a revisited cold case unsolved for over a year.

Mare Sheehan resides as the star detective of the town made famous as a result of her state championship-winning basketball shot back in high school. Her role as the town’s most connected woman could easily carry the storyline as she becomes too personal with subjects during the town’s ongoing investigation. The show instead utilizes Mare’s own heartfelt struggles within her personal life to drive the central motives between the plot and each character involved. 


The story itself is rooted in the shared grief Mare’s family experiences after the suicide of her only son. This tragedy expelled grief and recovery as a harping agent within each of Mare’s family relationships. When contrasted with the two murder investigations where the killer could quite literally be anyone in Easttown, a bone-chilling pace is entrenched between the two-story points. 

A plot based around a murder investigation has been done countless times on HBO alone. However, “Mare of Easttown” brilliantly brings new originality to the content and drives the mystery-thriller genre with in-depth outlooks on emotional caricatures. One of the show’s true strengths is the interpersonal relationships each family has and how they are interwoven with every other affair in the town. 

As the series progresses, Mare must set aside any personal relationships she has with the investigation suspects, placing her job above all else. This task becomes even more daunting as new clues emerge and potential murder suspects connect deeper into Mare’s past. 

In order to combat Mare’s relationship with the citizens of Easttown, the police chief brings in a new detective, Colin Zabel (Evan Peters), to assist Mare on the case. Detective Zabel brings an entirely unique perspective to the case, ultimately aiding Mare in completing the investigation.

The final few episodes of the show explore a compelling concept about the lengths one will go to save their family, even against the law. The show’s ending truly made me think about my own family and the repercussions an incident like that would cause in my own family unit.

Even without the deep relationships explored through grief, “Mare of Easttown” would still be an engaging show for viewers. However, by exploring different social dynamics through the inner workings of Easttown’s families, the show triumphs as a real thriller turned drama that will connect with audiences on an intimate level.

“Mare of Easttown” is available to watch on HBO Max.

By Dorian Rosenburg

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