Weekend Binge

Kate Winslet. Guy Pearce. Gayness. A small town mystery. What more could we need?

Mare of Easttown

Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.

The Whodunnit: Mare of Easttown

Of the younger generations, does any actress show more promise to follow in the steps of Meryl Streep, Viola Davis & Glenn Close as the Greatest Actress Alive than Kate Winslet? Ever-versatile and fearless, the woman continues to give one great performance after another, regardless of the material she has to work with.

We’re happy to report that Winslet gives yet another terrific performance–and with fine material to boot–in the HBO Max mystery Mare of Easttown. A colleague here at Queerty suggested we give it a look, and in short, we’re hooked.

The limited series follows Mare (played by Winslet), a former small-town high school basketball star. Now a middle-aged cop, Mare spends her days dealing with the ever-nagging residents of her gossipy small town. She spends evenings guzzling beer and agonizing over the suicide of her son just a couple years earlier. When a local teen mom turns up dead, Mare buckles under the mounting pressures of the case and her personal life, in particular as troubling questions begin to mount. Is the young woman’s death an act of revenge? Is it connected to the disappearance of another young woman a year earlier? In a town where everyone has secrets, everyone is a suspect.

Frumped up and looking sleep-deprived, Winslet carries the show with her dependable gusto, which alone would make Mare of Easttown worth a watch. Fortunately, she also has the help of a terrific supporting cast. Jean Smart, as Mare’s craggy mother Helen, gives yet another great character performance. Evan Peters shows off a new level of talent and maturity as Mare’s fellow detective, Colin. The show also gets a welcome dose of queerness in the form of Mare’s lesbian daughter, Siobhan (the pixieish Angourie Rice), whose friendships and romance entangle her in Mare’s ongoing investigation. In addition, the show reunites Winslet with her Mildred Pierce (a previous recommendation in the Weekend Binge series) co-star Guy Pearce, who plays a silver fox author that takes a liking to Mare.

Mare of Easttown channels standard police procedurals as well as more sophisticated small-town dramas: Twin Peaks and the film Winter’s Bone both come to mind. The writing by series creator Brad Ingelsby also adds more than a few intriguing twists to the mix, layering one mystery atop another. Five episodes in, we’re still not sure where he’s headed with this story. Gripping, gritty and featuring a showcase of terrific acting, we suggest diving in to Mare of Easttown now before its series finale airs and all its secrets get spilled. Mysteries like this are best enjoyed one clue at a time.

New episodes stream on HBO every Sunday. Series finale airs May 30.