Do not read until you have finished all seven episodes unless you want the finale completely spoiled!
IS MARE FUCKABLE?
There has been much discussion out there about Kate Winslet’s appearance as Mare. She has been lauded as brave and groundbreaking for the character’s frumpy clothes, messy hair, lack of makeup and a few extra pounds. The hubbub makes it seem as if portraying an average American woman with no time for glam were some kind of perverse anomaly to be avoided at all costs. Can we just normalize a normal looking woman in film and TV already? Hollywood clearly has a long way to go toward gender equality when any actress has to negotiate with producers to convince them not to cover up, but to actually show her fat and wrinkles.
“When Craig Zobel, the director, assured her he would cut “a bulgy bit of belly” in her sex scene with Guy Pearce, she told him, “Don’t you dare!” She also sent the show’s promo poster back twice because it was too retouched. “They were like ‘Kate, really, you can’t,’ and I’m like ‘Guys, I know how many lines I have by the side of my eye, please put them all back.’”
KATE WINSLET HAS NO FILTER, NY Times
I respect Kate for her stance here. The problem is that she has to have the conversation in the first place. Why should it be considered “brave” to portray an average sized, not so glamorous woman? Can we please let go of the impossible beauty standards and expectations of size 0 bodies and wrinkleless skin? On one hand, there is a positive message here that an “imperfect” woman is still attractive. Mare fucks. She doesn’t need a “bikini body”, Botox, a spray tan or mounds of makeup to get laid. Mare can get it anywhere she wants, apparently. She has two potential love interests AND a few extra pounds. Great! Cuz, guess what Hollywood? News Flash: fat women fuck. It’s true!
The real question is why is it even necessary for Mare to be fuckable? Doesn’t she have more important things to do, like finding Katie Bailey and Missy Sager and catching Erin McMenamin’s killer? Love Interest #1, Richard, is not very interesting and the relationship goes absolutely nowhere. To make Guy Pearce uninteresting is a remarkable feat indeed. What was the point of introducing Richard if he’s going to have no impact on Mare’s life? Oh yeah, cuz the writer wants you to know right up front that even though she’s “a little rough around the edges” Mare can still attract the male gaze.
Love Interest #2 is Detective Colin Zabel. The show’s only director is Craig Zobel. Coincidence? Although Det. Zabel was sent in by the County to help expedite Mare’s lagging investigation, he is also remarkably bad at his job. He follows Mare’s lead to investigate suspects, while she is suspended from duty, without warrants or backup. He follows her right into a bullet to the brain. Infuriating. This scene has been called “a heroic rescue.” I call it bumbling ineptitude. The only real justice in the show is when Colin’s mother slaps the shit out of Mare for leading her son to his death. Yep. You deserved that Mare. His blood is on your hands.
Prioritize Women Before the Male Gaze
If the show spent less time on Mare’s fuckability, and more time solving the crimes, perhaps we could get some answers to the real pressing questions. Questions such as, who the hell is serial killer Wayne Potts? Where is the girl he did away with after he took Katie? How many women has he taken?
If Mare had done her job appropriately, avoiding the heinous attempted entrapment of her grandson’s mother, following procedure, investigating thoroughly, surveilling Wayne and gathering real evidence, these questions might have had satisfactory answers. In this town where Mare knows or is related to almost everyone, except Wayne Potts, it’s a rather anti-climactic wrap up of this story thread to introduce and eliminate this random stranger killer all in one poor choice. It’s a disservice and disrespect to Katie and Dawn, to Missy and all the other unnamed sex workers – in this fiction and in reality – who fall prey to sexual predators every day.
Maybe it’s my love of soap operas, but how much more terrifying would it have been if Wayne’s poker buddies that came over regularly included Kenny McMenamin, John or Billy Ross, ex-husband Frank Sheehan, or even Mare herself? I ask because I was simply left feeling that Katie’s story was all a bit of a throw away, the way too many young women are treated every day. Katie and Missy were disposable to Wayne, as if they were expendable to the storytellers as well.
If the entertainment industry wants to make a real impact, we have to do better and dig deeper. It’s not enough to have “a strong, complicated female lead” if that female lead doesn’t care about fellow females or others who are marginalized. We can’t keep painting all women as victims and all men as victimizers. We must move away from rape and murder as the only go-to plot points. We see it so often that we have become desensitized to the true horror and suffering. Our world is littered with so much misogynist garbage, it can be easy to overlook. All the collective violence against women that drove most of the Mare of Easttown narrative was brushed aside so damn easily, like a discarded cheese steak wrapper.