Mare of Easttown, HBO’s latest crime drama on Disney+ Hotstar, is not solely a harrowing murder mystery. Drawing from his own life in Pennsylvania, writer-creator Brad Ingelsby portrays a dilapidated town afflicted by drug abuse, poverty, and crime. It reaches a tipping point after a slew of murders and kidnappings. Above all, this seven-part series is about a detective who is trying to hold the town, her family, and herself together. There are only a few shows out there that match the complexity of this one. So, after completing Mare of Easttown, if you are on the prowl for similar content, here are a few recommendations:
Sharp Objects (2018)
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
Instead of a detective that’s investigating a crime, here, we have a reporter. She’s also an alcoholic, and a daughter that is often on the receiving end of her mother’s aggression. Just like the Mare of Easttown, this miniseries rarely shifts focus from its protagonist Camille (Amy Adams). At the same time, it never loses sight of its central mystery either. Together — between Camille, her bleak and disturbing town, and the crimes — Sharp Objects provides an uncompromising and layered look at the grotesque realities of life. If not for anything else, watch this show for powerhouse duo Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson.
Streaming on: Netflix
When I first saw Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown, I was instantly reminded of Toni Collette in Unbelievable. Both are fiery, no-nonsense investigators — they are the classic bad cops. And the reason not just the actors but the shows shine is because the police procedural is not helmed by a man. In Unbelievable, we have two female detectives in search of a serial rapist. Concurrently, we are also allowed a look into the minds of the victims and survivors. This true crime miniseries, mostly, is about trauma and the subsequent burden of guilt that one carries.
Top of the Lake (2013-2017)
Streaming on: MX Player
Most crime shows are responsible for relegating women to the position of survivors — without victimhood, their identity is incomplete. But Top of the Lake is different. In one of her New Yorker essays, Pulitzer-winning critic Emily Nussbaum called this show a “moody, pastoral rape-and-murder drama.” And that is precisely what it is — instead of judging or pitying the characters or their circumstances, we are shown how people treat sex crimes, as if they are an ephemeral nightmare that will end once you wake up.
Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
Mare of Easttown is sublime television not just because of the volume of subjects it masterfully grapples with, but also because of its portrayal of the idiosyncratic. It sprinkles wry humour throughout, adding moments of levity when you least expect it. David Lynch’s Twin Peaks benefits from a similar treatment. Through its soap opera-like structure, the series investigates the murder of a homecoming queen, a young girl in an eccentric and mysterious town. As we go deeper into the show, we learn more about its characters. It keeps you on edge throughout.
Defending Jacob (2020)
Streaming on: Apple TV+
This one is a bit different, not only in terms of its content but also quality. Yes, its episodic length can be fairly plodding and frustrating. However, it’s the performances and unusual narrative that help you overlook the show’s missteps. Chris Evans plays an assistant DA whose 14-year-old son is accused of murdering his classmate. Barring its central whodunnit plot, this show excels at depicting a family in turmoil. It is a venture into the minds of two parents that are haunted by the spectre of doubt and uncertainty.