It's almost a cliché in crime dramas that the lead detective has some sort of a tragic flaw - they're an alcoholic, they're struggling with past demons, they have an unresolved murder in their own family. With Mare of Easttown the story isn't just about that one character and what they endure. It's about an entire community.
Some regions of Pennsylvania struggle against immense poverty coupled with sky-high addiction rates. There's a number of factors which converge to cause this, and the end result is families pulled apart, children left without parents, and a endemic sense of despair. It's not just one generation afflicted with this shadow. Generation after generation after generation gets stuck in the mire.
We see this first-hand in Mare of Easttown. The community members know each other intimately; their lives interweave and snake underneath each other. Sisters reach their breaking point with brothers. Parents struggle to help their kids escape the trap. All the usual challenges of growing up and finding your way are exacerbated when drugs are within easy reach and home is somewhere to flee from.
It's fair to say this isn't a "happy show". It's a realistic view into the depths of how a community of people scrape by day after day. For a portion of watchers who are looking for sitcom-style escapism, this show is definitely NOT that. But for the people who are looking for a story of how a community, even in dark times, can find a way to draw together and lean on each other, Mare of Easttown provides that stretched-out hand. Addiction is real and insanely powerful. It rakes through lives like a scythe. Despair and depression can make facing a new day seem near impossible. It can be easy to lose all hope. But if one can nurture precious connections with family and friends, and persevere against the dark, there is a light out there.