Last night I watched episode #1 of Mare of Easttown. I’d read it was about small-town Pennsylvania gloom, despair, Ratso Rizzo limping, “lemme outta here”, downmarket atmosphere and forlorn character shadings with zero engagement on a whodunit level. And it certainly is that.

I wasn’t bored but at the same time I was saying to myself “really?”

All I can say is that if I was an actual resident of Easttown, the idea of Oxycontin addiction would be very tempting. I might even start limping around just for fun.

The only scene I liked was Kate Winslet chatting with her Mildred Pierce costar Guy Pearce at the local bar. That said, I didn’t believe she’d go right back to his place and fuck him immediately. Women of character usually wait a while for that. And as Pearce is the only literate-minded fellow in Easttown with a wry sense of humor who isn’t a rural loser of one kind of another, I definitely didn’t believe that she wouldn’t want to get to know him and see where that might lead. So right away I wasn’t believing it.

The subtitle of this limited HBO series is “Reasons You Don’t Want To Even Flirt With The Idea of Living in Grimtown, Pennsylvania.”

Mare of Easttown‘s creator, writer and producer is Brad Inglesby, who grew up in Berwyn — a hilly suburb of Philadelpha — and knows this hellish “Delco” landscape all too well.

I respect the basic idea of trying to focus viewer attention on the dull, deflating horror of living in a region like this instead of just cranking out another whodunit. (The series was shot in Easttown Township but more specifically Coatesville, Aston, Drexel Hill, Chestnut Hill and Sellersville.)

But the more Inglesby and director Craig Zobel focus on local losers, the more I’m going to feel distanced from this series as it moves along. The only thing that can save it is if they give Guy Pearce more screentime and let his character carry more of the load.