TV & Movies

Kate Winslet’s Mare of Easttown Character Was Inspired By A Real Person

The series creator wanted to tell a story about his upbringing.

by Candace Cordelia Smith
'Mare of Easttown' Photo via HBO

HBO limited series Mare of Easttown plunges viewers into the small, blue-collar town of Easttown, Pennsylvania, where residents are rocked by the murder of a local 17-year-old girl named Erin McMenamin. On the job to investigate the grisly case is none other than detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet). The seven-episode miniseries is reminiscent of true-crime series and other dramatic HBO hits, such as Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies, shows brought to life from books written by master mystery novelists. With this in mind, it’s natural to wonder if Mare of Easttown is also based on a book or a true story. Here’s everything you need to know about the intriguing plot:

The Origins of “Mare of Easttown”

According to Mare of Easttown creator Brad Ingelsby, the show’s premise was completely fictionalized just for television. In an interview with Black Girl Nerds, Ingelsby recalled first writing Mare of Easttown in 2018, a year he described as a “dark time” in the United States. “I wanted to portray the need for compassion and mercy and to help each other with a certain level of kindness and decency,” began Ingelsby. He added, “I think we’ve turned a corner in the country. I hope we’re in a different place. There’s a certain level of optimism now, which was what I wanted to achieve with this story — those traits of kindness and decency and just taking care of each other and a sense of duty towards the members of a community and towards family.”

The Way Back writer did, however, borrow the name of Easttown Township, Pennsylvania, for the fictional setting of his show. The Pennsylvania native also filmed the series there as well. He told Town & Country magazine in April, “A lot of it for me was wanting to tell a story about home. I didn’t grow up with any cops or around murder investigation but, the rhythms and rituals of the lives of these characters are very much a part of how I grew up.” On top of using a real town’s name and image, Ingelsby’s Easttown pulled inspiration from other Pennsylvania locations, such as Drexel Hill and Coatesville, as reported by The Los Angeles Times.

Who Inspired Kate Winslet’s Character, Mare Sheehan?

In conversation with Town & Country, Ingelsby revealed Winslet’s complicated heroine character, Mare Sheehan, was created with a friend in mind. “I had a buddy from where I grew up who was an officer at a little police station in a small Pennslyvania town,” he said, “and through my conversations with him, I became interested in this idea of a small station with a small group of officers and one detective.” Ingelsby added that Mare’s character was fleshed out as a former local teenage hero turned town outcast. “I was trying to figure out what her story could be,” he added.

The overall premise of Mare of Easttown is clearly more fiction than fact. Regardless, the nail-biting crime drama has already made an impression on critics and fans well before the first season finale. “#HBO always has the best shows but even with that, #MareofEasttown is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a very long time. The writing and acting are both phenomenal,” said one passionate fan on Twitter.

Mare of Easttown airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO and is also available to stream on HBO Max.