Mare of Easttown: A Great Crime Drama – HBO Max Review

Kate Winslet deserves another Emmy.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) is a detective in the small town of Easttown, Pennsylvania who was formerly a town hero for her basketball skills. She is ordered to reopen an investigation into the disappearance of a young girl, Katie Bailey (Caitlin Houlahan) after Katie’s mother, Dawn (Enid Graham), complains about the ineffectual police work. At the same time, another dead body is found and it’s connected to Mare’s daughter, Siobhan (Angourie Rice). While Mare tries to solve two different crimes, she is also weighed down by her ex-husband Frank (David Denman) getting remarried, her son’s suicide, and her heroin-addicted former daughter-in-law Carrie (Sosie Bacon) trying to take away her grandson. There are a huge number of supporting characters along the way.

Kate Winslet is a treasure.

END SUMMARY

I hadn’t really heard anything about this until it was four or five episodes in when some of my siblings told me to check it out. While I prefer comedies overall, this is a drama that you just can’t help but get sucked into. Kate Winslet’s performance is among the best in her career. Somehow she basically embodies the atmosphere of the show. She’s bitter, she’s miserable, and life keeps kicking her in the face, but she’s still working on a way to get through it all. She was the town’s hero, but much like the town she’s wildly past her prime. At one point I was legitimately curious how someone as unbelievably talented and constantly praised as Kate Winslet can so perfectly capture the feeling of having peaked. Then a female friend said “she’s an actress in her 40s, she’s probably constantly worried that she’s peaked.” Whatever she draws from, she’s perfect in the role. 

Oh, and Evan Peters is there, being all handsome.

The show’s not shy about directly addressing the drug problems that plague a lot of small towns in America, nor the effect it has on the families of addicts. A great scene early on involves a woman punching her brother for burglarizing her and admitting, privately, that she can’t handle his slow march towards destruction. Many of the people in the show are battling either addiction or someone with it and scenes like that are common. It helps that the show treats almost all of these characters as real people and perpetually defies TV drama stereotypes. 

There are some issues with police conduct, but they aren’t as focal.

The supporting cast is amazing, but I would have to say that most of the members of Mare’s family are all brilliant. I particularly love Jean Smart as Mare’s mother, but then again I love Jean Smart in anything lately. Much like with the townspeople, the family all feel genuine and not like cookie-cutter copies of most TV families. It also helps that Mare’s relationships with all of them are distinct and it gives the show a number of moments of levity mixed with moments of bold sincerity. 

Hey, people aren’t supposed to sit on all sides of the table on TV!

Overall, give Kate Winslet another Emmy and give this show a shot.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Hacks: It’s a Funny Show about Funny Women – HBO Max Review

Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder bring us a series about the gap in comic generations.

SUMMARY

Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) is a legendary comedian whose 1970s sitcom with her husband defined much of modern comedy. Unfortunately, her husband cheated on her with her sister, the show ended, Vance lost her chance at being the first female late-night host, and 40 years later she’s now a longtime fixture at a casino in Las Vegas who is fairly estranged from her daughter DJ (Kaitlin Olson). After her ex-husband finally dies, Deborah is informed by the casino owner, Marty (Christopher McDonald), that he’s cutting her show dates. Deborah calls her manager, Jimmy (Paul W. Downs), who tells her she should hire a writer. While her manager, Marcus (Carl Clemons-Hopkins), is open to it, Deborah declines. Ignoring her wishes, Jimmy sends her Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder), a comic writer who has been a pariah due to a poorly-received tweet. The two don’t get along, but when they start verbally sparring, Deborah ends up hiring her. Now the two have to work together to get their careers back on track and maybe get them both to the top.

Forty years as a headlining comedian do give you a nice house, though.

END SUMMARY

I was advised to check this show out or I probably never would have even heard about it, and I’m glad to pass the message on. This show is a pretty solid generation-gap comedy, but with the added element of having both of the leads be women. Deborah grew up in the comedy world when the motto was “there is no line as long as it’s funny,” but Ava lives in the modern comedy world where comedy is expected to have a social agenda. She constantly has to come up against Deborah’s older humor base involving stereotypes about marriage, femininity, and female sexuality with Ava’s more modern sensibilities. However, while Deborah doesn’t particularly drive it home as much as she probably could, there’s always still the underlying knowledge that Ava would not likely even have an opportunity to be a comedian. Deborah suffered, clawed, and fought her way into a market that often refused to even acknowledge that women could be on stage, making a foothold that Ava is using to stand. 

She fought the Man for decades, she gets a helicopter ride.

It’s probably obvious, but the key to this show is that the two leads are both, independently, hilarious. Jean Smart, aside from being a lead on Designing Women, has been a mainstay of sitcoms for decades and has lately been tearing it up on HBO with her roles in Watchmen, Mare of Easttown, and now this series. She’s got a natural ability to play both the big, over-the-top moments and the small, quiet moments without ever feeling like she’s betraying the character. When Deborah is “ON,” then she is very on. When she is being real, she’s often contemplative and deeper than people expect. Smart makes this feel like one cohesive person with two sides rather than a person putting on an act. Hannah Einbinder, daughter of famed SNL cast member Laraine Newman, is just as new to the field of comedy as her TV counterpart, but she has a lot going for her. She was the youngest person to do a stand-up set on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at the age of 25. She’s got an absurdist touch to her comedy that makes it feel like her lines can literally come from anywhere and a delivery that makes even the most insane sentence sound funny.

They really play off of each other well.

Overall, it’s a pretty solid show.  I recommend giving it a try. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.