As "American Rust" (2021 release; 8 episodes of about 60 min. each) opens with Episode 1 "The Mill", we see an old guy preparing pills (opioids?). He is soon revealed as Del Harris, Police Chief of the (fictional) town of Buell, PA, "closer to West Virginia in distance and community than to Pittsburgh", he remarks dryly. We are then introduced to Billy and Isaac, two kids just out of high school. Isaac reminds Billy that it's the last night of his 6 month probation, something worth celebrating. What is Billy on probation for? We then go the "Six Months Earlier"... At this point we are 10 min into Episode 1.
Couple of comments: this mini-series is the TV adaptation of the book of the same name by Philipp Meyer, as directed by veteran TV director John Dahl. I have not read the book so I cannot comment how closely the TV series sticks to the book. As I was watching Episode 1, I immediately had to think of this other recent TV mini-series Mare of Eastown, starring Kate Winslet. The central theme is the same: a small and rural Pennsylvania town continues to decay, leaving its population (whatever is left of it) in shambles and desperation. And oh yes, along the way there is a murder mystery to be solved. So my expectations were not very high for "American Rust", but I must admit that I quite enjoyed Episode 1. Other than Jeff Daniels (in the lead role of the Police Chief), this is pretty much a no-name cast (at least for me), but the acting performances were quite robust. Even there are several plot twists in just the opening episode, positioning itself to be an explosive mini-series, the overall pace of at least Episode 1 is quite slow.
"American Rust" premiered this weekend on Showtime, and Episode 1 is now available on Showtime on Demand, Amazon Instant Video and other platforms. New episodes air on Sunday evenings at 10 pm Eastern. If you are in the mood for a dark, if not grim, murder mystery series set in a depressing environment, I'd readily suggest you check this out, and draw your own conclusion.