Watch List

23+ Addictive Mysteries Like Mare of Easttown With Complex Female Leads

Crime? Drama? Messiness? Yes, please.

Written by Hedy Phillips
Originally Published: 
Shows like 'Mare of Easttown,' starring Kate Winslet, are rare — but they do exist.
Michele K. Short/HBO

HBO's Mare of Easttown brings Oscar winner Kate Winslet to the small screen as a cop named Mare, who has a strained relationship with her family and is trying to figure out how a young mother in town turned up dead. The miniseries, which hasn't been renewed for a Season 2 and actually may not be, was a roller coaster ride from beginning to end, landing with a twist that could easily keep the door open for future episodes. However, there's no telling if or when that might happen. If you've already blasted through Season 1 and want more murderous mysteries to jump into, you need more shows like Mare of Easttown to add to your watchlist.

But what is it that makes Mare of Easttown such a good watch? Aside from the obviously excellent cast, a large part of its appeal lies in the depiction of the female leads. "It's hard to overstate the importance of a world that feels lived-in like this one, and, while the production values are essential, a lot of that grounding comes back to Winslet, who continues to impress this far into her multiple award-winning career," wrote Brian Tallerico for "She finds so many layers to Mare that other performers would have missed, imbuing her with the kind of sadness that shadows people who have lost a child while never dipping into melodrama."

The female characters in Mare of Easttown are strong yet complicated. Messy, even. It’s what gives the show such raw authenticity. So, cue up the following series when you want more of that on your screen.

Shows Like Mare of Easttown

1. Unbelievable (2019)

Based on a true story, Unbelievable tells the story of a young woman named Marie (Kaitlyn Dever) who claims she was sexually assaulted. But as the detectives on the case — played by the always incredible Toni Collette and Merritt Wever — start digging into what happened, the truth begins to surface. Marie doesn't know what to do, the detectives don't know what to do, and everything falls apart at her unbelievable story.

2. Big Little Lies (2017-2019)

Like Mare of Easttown, Big Little Lies is big on mystery. In the show, everyone is hiding something. Celeste (Nicole Kidman) doesn't have the idyllic life that everyone thinks she does, Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) can't keep her nose out of everyone's business, and Jane (Shailene Woodley) is running from something that she doesn't want to open up about. Lies, deceit, and even death are at the center of this thrilling series.

3. The Flight Attendant (2020- )

In The Flight Attendant, we're working backward after discovering Alex (Michiel Huisman) has turned up dead and Cassie (Kaley Cuoco) has no idea what happened — despite sleeping with him the night before. Thanks to her drinking, Cassie's memories aren't quite intact, and she's trying to evade the police, who think she had something to do with his death. Unfortunately for Cassie, she can't remember if she was involved, though she's pretty sure she wasn't. She has to figure out the mystery of Alex's death, all while his spirit or ghost or essence is whispering in her ear the whole time, much like how Mare has to figure out her own cases in Mare of Easttown.

4. The Undoing (2020)

Nicole Kidman is, yet again, playing a role where her life isn't nearly as pristine as it looks from the outside. Her husband, played by Hugh Grant, is absolutely not who he seems. And when a young woman who recently came into their lives turns up dead, the whole mystery comes together. How did she die? How is she actually connected to everyone else? Why isn't anyone who they say they are? Who will even figure all of this out?

5. True Detective (2014-2019)

If you'd rather focus on the cop aspect of Mare of Easttown, True Detective does just that. You'll be immersed in the lives of a group of detectives as they track down criminals and solve crimes. But you'll also be taken outside the precinct and into their personal lives, keeping them human, much like Mare of Easttown does.

6. Sharp Objects (2018)

Amy Adams stars in Sharp Objects as Camille, a reporter trying to figure out unsolved crimes in her hometown. Much like Mare, Camille is on the case, trying to get to the bottom of the mysterious murders that have plagued the town. Camille also re-engages with her estranged family, bringing an added layer of extra-complicated drama into the fold.

7. Defending Jacob (2020)

After an assistant district attorney’s teenage son is charged with murder, the family's entire life is turned upside down. The father, played by Chris Evans, wrestles with the decision to be a good man who believes in law or a good father who believes his son. He and his wife are targeted because of the case, and everything they once thought about their town and family implodes. Defending Jacob is an exciting thriller that keeps you guessing until the end.

Similar Shows to Add to Your Watch List

  1. Happy Valley (2014-2022)
  2. Broadchurch (2013-2017)
  3. Tell Me Your Secrets (2021- )
  4. The Stranger (2020)
  5. Collateral (2018)
  6. The Fall (2013-2016)
  7. Seven Seconds (2018)
  8. How to Get Away With Murder (2014-2020)
  9. Unforgotten (2015- )
  10. Top of the Lake (2013-2017)
  11. The Killing (2011-2014)
  12. The Cry (2018)
  13. The White Lotus (2021- )
  14. The Sinner (2017-2021)
  15. The Closer (2005-2012)
  16. Marcella (2016- )
  17. Scandal (2012-2018)

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