In an incestuous patchwork of acquaintances and intimacies, everyone knows everyone else and their ex-wife
“My daughter’s been missing for exactly one year today. Every moment without her has been complete torture. And the police aren’t doing anything. They don’t care. That’s why we’re here. If they’re not gonna fight to find Katie, we will.” The plaintive cry of a mother on prime time, ravaged with terminal illness, desperate to reclaim some meaning from a life which holds little.
Where, exactly? Easttown, a figment of the director’s imagination. So where was it filmed? In the suburbs of big-city Philadelphia. How can an outcrop of what was the first city of the American Revolution be so tiny and nondescript? We are on the lip of iron and steel country, where undulating streets, untidy rows of box houses, and autumnal trees bare of any green life paint a reluctant memory of the industrial working class of a generation ago whose sole purpose was to exist in the hours between shrieking factory whistles. Lack of future and opportunity continue to cast a permanent shadow. The natural progression of the economy has ensured a modicum of prosperity to Easttown, nevertheless doomed to lose the young and impatient to the lure of nation’s affluence, for whom a town that industry and time forgot will remain a mere dot, because it is not worth remembering.
Also read: Series review: The Alienist
So, therefore, no distinguishing features? None, it would appear, unless you consider Kate Winslet, superstar of yesterday bowed by the premature age and grey cynicism of the town of her birth and life after. And the redeeming features? Happily, the question doesn’t arise, because the components of a plain-Jane story of murder and working-class stupidity combine to produce what promises to evolve into a spectacular series.
Mare Sheehan, high school basketball star, in the present avatar of Detective Sergeant of the Easttown Police Department, grandmother at forty-five of a four-year-old who melts her granite features, is hauled out of bed at the crack of dawn by a little old lady who swears a peeping tom is feasting his eyes on her showering granddaughter. Why didn’t they call the police number, she asks. Because we know you, Mare! And that underlines the unfortunate reality of the town. In an incestuous patchwork of acquaintances and intimacies, everyone knows everyone else and their ex-wife.
Weary, angry, abrupt, matter of fact, a tale of despair and no hope on the colorless horizon. The comic interlude of a silent conspiracy when our dedicated cop discovers that the man she divorced is remarrying and everyone seems to be in the know but her. What is this American malaise of teenage marriage and motherhood? Is earnest little Drew the son of Mare’s school-going daughter, intelligent but dragging her college applications? And if she is, didn’t I just see her sharing the warmth of a female bed? What about that beautiful slip of a girl, a toddler to her name, brutally beaten, rescued half way through the bludgeoning, trudging away purposeless from the party in the woods, victim of a cruel social media set-up. Oh lord, is that her, sprawled naked on the rocks, staring sightless at the cold sky? Hey, don’t forget Katie, buried in bureaucracy and lost in a trail gone cold. Half-facts, hints of personality, of unexpected correlations, an unlikely stab of romance, layer upon layer and story within a story, the show simmers with facets and half-revealed truths.
Hot out of the oven, the aroma pervades. The first episode streamed on April 18, and a new episode will hit the screen every Monday thereafter. Like a tablet with slow release, the effects permeate and warm long after. The producers are serious, Dear Reader, and if you are good and eat your vegetables, one episode for you every Monday.
An original HBO production on Disney Hotstar. Join me, dear reader, in what promises to be a fascinating journey through a world of drab normalcy.