TV Series Overview
Mare of Easttown is a seven-episode series by writer/producer Brad Inglesby, an HBO production released by Sky Atlantic in the UK. It focuses on the efforts of Mare Sheehan (the titular Mare of Easttown) to bring a murderer to justice while life and Easttown itself seem stuck in a downward spiral.
The real Easttown Township is a nice community in Chester County with a population of about 10,000. The fictional Easttown is in neighboring Delaware County, a suburban area in northwest Philadelphia.
The unexpected success of the Kate Winslet drama is partly due to the rich and unique cast as well as the backdrop of a rust belt town that has seen better days. Even though the struggles of the townsfolk can be disheartening at times, their perseverance in the face of social and economic decline is inspiring.
The show’s authenticity derives in part from the fact that Brad Inglesby grew up near the real-world town of Easttown. Sun Center Studios is a privately owned studio located in Astor, PA, a town in Delaware County. Director Craig Zobel filmed many of the scenes in Chester County, PA, and Delaware County, PA.
Like other crime dramas, including the movie Seven and the series The Killing, the weather and changes in the scenery reflect the inner state of the characters.
Kate Winslet portrayed detective Mare Sheehan, AKA Miss Lady Hawk, in HBO’s Mare of Easttown. She is raising her grandson Drew after her son Kevin killed himself. Carrie, a recovering addict and the mother of Mare’s grandson, is fighting her for custody of Drew. From the start, Mare also faces criticism from resident Dawn Bailey, whose daughter is missing.
Police Chief Carter (John Douglas Thompson) is Mare’s boss. Although Mare is a small-town detective, Carter pushes her to tackle big cases. As in so many police procedurals, his role is to rein Mare in when she blurs the ethical lines.
Despite her struggles, Mare can turn to family and friends in the community for help. Guy Pearce plays her love interest, Richard Ryan. Jean Smart plays her mother, Helen. Her friend Lori Ross (Julianne Nicholson) provides Mare with support and understanding while raising a son, Ryan, with her husband, John.
The discovery of the teenager Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny) dead in a local creek sets the story in motion. Erin has a son, DJ, who needs surgery. Her ex-boyfriend Dylan, the apparent father, is currently in a relationship with Jess Riley (Ruby Cruz).
Mare Sheehan and county detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) begin an investigation that unfolds slowly over seven episodes and spans filming locations across several Pennsylvania counties. According to some reports, Evan Peters found some of the scenes so challenging that he nearly quit acting.
The plot grows more complex when Mare’s ex-husband Frank Sheehan has a connection to the murdered girl and possibly a motive for murder. The investigation impacts other characters, such as Father Dan Hastings, Deacon Mark Burton, Erin’s abusive father Kenny, and some children in her school.
The range of real-world filming locations kept film crews busy and earned them attention from the local press in northwest Philadelphia. The overcast weather, aging architecture, and lush surroundings created a dreary but natural feel for Mare of Easttown, one that would be hard to create on a soundstage.
The following real-world locations stood in for their counterparts in the fictional version of Easttown. Brad Inglesby’s knowledge of the area and the diligence of his location scouts gave the Netflix series the feel of a real small town, one that better fit the mood and theme of the series than would the real Easttown township or some studio creation.
Explore all the locations that gave Mare of Easttown its unique charm and lent an earthy realism to the series.
Most of the scenes in Mare of Easttown take place in Delaware County (AKA Delco), the site of Sun Center Studios. The culture and quirks of Delco are on display in Mare of Easttown, as are real-life locations, including those listed below.
The house where Erin and her family lived is in Chad’s Ford, Delaware County. As of spring 2022, the realty site Zillow estimates the value of the home to be $521,000, likely a higher real-world value than one would expect in the downtrodden world of Mare of Easttown.
Mare’s mother, Helen (Jean Smart), lives with Mare in a spacious house that is a private home in Wallingford, PA. Mare’s house was often a refuge from the chaotic challenges that Mare faced in the rest of Easttown. Additionally, Mare’s house is the site of the emotional series conclusion, a final scene that moved Kate Winslet and many others in the cast.
The owners of the home have reported instances of trespassing from fans of the show, so we won’t divulge the actual address where the crew from Mare of Easttown filmed Mare’s house.
Jess’s apartment is a real apartment complex in Coatesville. Its exterior is the site of a chase scene.
Mare buys a fish tank for her grandson Drew at a local store. The simple fish tank symbolizes both the drive to support family and lowered expectations in the face of economic and social decline. This pivotal scene takes place in the real-life store Aquarium World in Boothwyn, PA.
Chester County, the county that includes the real Easttown Township, plays an important role in the filming for Mare of Easttown.
A crucial scene by the river takes place in Subaru Park beneath the Commodore Barry Bridge. The location provides an expansive view of the tranquil Delaware River. The bridge opened in 1974 and replaced a ferry service that previously crossed the river.
In real life, the bridge was the site of a 1978 fire at a dump and rubber recycling plant. Cleanup for the disaster required the better part of a decade. The bridge symbolizes both attempts at progress and the continuing struggle to overcome setbacks and protect what remains. Each of these qualities is central to the character of Delco residents in Mare of Easttown and the series’ main themes.
The old Coatesville train station serves as Easttown’s police station. It might seem strange to use an old train station as Easttown’s police station, but the brick facade and rust-belt architecture give the building a certain feel. Filmmakers shot the interior of the police station elsewhere, but character conversation outside the station took place on Fleetwood Street.
The inside of the police station and some homes were artificial sets at the studio. When John talks to Mare about crucial details of the murder, he’s not really inside the old train station.
The filmmakers chose Coatesville for other scenes, including establishing shots of Easttown and, most notably, views of Coatesville’s Fairview Cemetery.
The creek in Mare of Easttown runs through the Sharp’s Woods Preserve. In 1959, Philadelphia Conservationists, a local group, created the preserve to protect the 28-acre site from development.
The woods are a wild place in the series where passions, jealousy, anger, and bitterness rise to the surface. In the course of seven episodes, the plot returns to the woods many times.
The town of Phoenixville provided many of the locations used in filming Mare of Easttown, including a gas station on Bridge Street. Filming on Bridge Street attracted the local media because of street closures and sightings of Kate Winslet.
The basement of a room in Philadelphia’s Girard College was the location of an indoor restaurant scene. The courthouse was also a Girard College building. Girard College is also the location for Kettleman College, the fictional school where Richard (Guy Pearce) teaches.
The Marcus Hook Pharmacy is the location for many pivotal scenes in Mare of Easttown. Important chase scenes take place in Marcus Hook, which is not far from Sun Center Studios. A building that plays a critical role in the investigation of Kate’s disappearance and Erin’s death takes place in an old building on Marcus Hook.
Montgomery County lies to the northeast of Delaware and Chester Counties. It contains some of the breathtaking natural scenery in Mare of Eastown.
The natural greenery of Wissahickon Valley Park in nearby Montgomery County perfectly symbolizes how close the Easttown residents are to nature, both in the outside world and their natural impulses. In one crucial scene by the river, Mare confronts John and his brother Billy about vital elements of the murder.
You might wonder, “Why was Mare of Easttown filmed in so many places across different counties in Pennsylvania?” One reason could be that Easttown (and in particular Brad Inglesby’s hometown of Berwyn) has a high median income, high property values, and a more white-collar population than the blue-collar community of the series.
Wealthy communities have their share of troubles, but an affluent suburb would hardly convey the financial desperation and frayed social fabric that Mare of Easttown brought to the screen.
Eating and Meeting in Mare of Easttown
Mare of Easttown featured many places to eat, including restaurants, diners, and taverns. They provided meeting places and opportunities for characters to unwind or open up to one another. For the most part, the series creators chose authentic eating establishments and other buildings in the Delco area to stand in for these settings.
The bar at the Star Hotel is a meeting place for characters. The interior of the bar is the Star Hotel Bar in Marcus Hook, Delaware County, while the large building that provides the exterior is the American Legion Hall in Ogden (Upper Chichester Township), Delaware County.
A local pizzeria not far from the studio provided pizza and credibility for several scenes, including a scene where Mark orders pizza. They don’t seem to have a website, but they do have a Facebook page so that you can see their menu, help wanted announcements, and a small announcement about a “special event” taking place in late October and early November 2020.
A restaurant scene took place in Duffer’s Mill, Chichester. Duffer’s Mill has been in the area for over two decades and contributes to many community charities.
Mare speaks with an informant at a retro diner that is the Philly Diner in Essington. Reviews on TripAdvisor praise the restaurant as a “hidden treasure” with “great food” and a “great staff” but also say that it “needs a facelift.” That sums up the style that Mare of Easttown creators were going for.
Don’t overlook the importance of everyday streets in Mare of Easttown, many of them near the studio lot. Chase scenes, fights, and meaningful conversations that Kate Winslet has with Guy Pearce, Evan Peters, and other important characters take place on Delco’s quintessentially American Streets.
No location scout is entirely a substitute for a childhood or a lifetime spent in a small town. The Kate Winslet drama Mare of Easttown benefits from writer Brad Inglesby’s personal experience with Easttown Township. Scenes filmed in locations that resonate with the director are often more natural than scenes filmed inside the studio.
Mare of Easttown’s title says it all. The series is a pairing of a compelling character and a richly conceived, albeit fictional, version of Easttown Township. The settings often brought out unique aspects of Kate Winslet’s performance and deeply influenced the acting experience of Evan Peters and the rest of the supporting cast.
Follow in the footsteps of Kate Winslet as a small-town detective the next time you find yourself in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Check out Mare of Easttown on HBO, HBO Max, and Sky Atlantic.