In this life, there are few things that we can truly count on. At this point, it’s just death, taxes, and HBO cranking out gritty limited series starring Oscar-winning actresses at least once a year. In fact, it was just six months ago that the internet was abuzz with theories and memes about The Undoing, but already the gays on the HBO programming team have bestowed another Emmy opportunity upon a woman over 40, and like clockwork, everyone is talking about Mare of Easttown.
Set in a rural Pennsylvania town (with rural Pennsylvania accents to match), Mare stars Kate Winslet as an embattled detective trying to solve multiple tough cases at the same time that her personal life is unraveling. Each week, another bit of plot is revealed, and we grow more and more unsure of which Easttown locals can be trusted. Speaking of the locals, this show has quite the cast of characters—a creepy priest, horny teens with anger issues, middle-aged women whose lives aren’t what they wanted, and of course, a couple of hot guys to keep things interesting. So rather than try to make predictions or poke around for plot holes, I decided to rank the characters by who I’d most and least like to sit next to on a flight. Just to level the playing field, let’s imagine this is a three-hour flight in coach, because let’s be real, none of these people would fly first class (and neither would I).
And yes, there will be spoilers for episodes 1-5 if you keep reading, so if you haven’t watched Mare of Easttown yet, take a five-hour break right now and catch the f*ck up. It’s worth it, promise.
9. Deacon Mark
There is nothing, literally nothing, on this Earth that makes me more uncomfortable than a creepy priest. Even before we knew about the sexual assault allegations that forced Deacon Mark to relocate, the vibe he gave off was an immediate no from me. Maybe he didn’t kill Erin (idk!), but that doesn’t mean I want to spend three hours in his presence. If I saw him sitting in my row, suddenly that $250 voucher to get bumped to the next flight would look pretty appealing.
8. Dawn Bailey
Look, Dawn seems like a good person. She’s a hardworking woman who just wants her daughter back, and combined with her cancer, she’s clearly been through a lot in the last year. Therefore, I feel like she’d talk way too much on the plane. As a character on a TV show, I want to know all about her struggle, but as a stranger on a direct flight to Atlanta, when I already downloaded three episodes of The O.C. to watch? Not so much.
7. Dylan Hinchey
Okay, so Dylan kinda sucks, and as a fellow Dylan, I feel like I’m allowed to be a little bit harsh here. If he hadn’t been such a dick to Erin, she might still be alive, and I wouldn’t even be writing this article right now. But while I’m not a Dylan Hinchey fan, I assume he’d pretty much keep to himself on a flight, so that’s not why he ranks so low. Truthfully, I’m assuming he would have baby DJ on the plane with him, and the idea of being stuck next to a baby that needs ear surgery sounds like one of Dante’s levels of Hell that didn’t make the final edit. Can you imagine the screaming?
I really struggled with where to put Mare on this list. As the main character of the show, I would love to get some one-on-one time with her, but I just have a hunch she’d be a nervous flier. I doubt any of these people have spent much time on planes, but Mare in particular seems like someone who would have a lot of questions. Yes, the engines are supposed to be that loud. No, I haven’t timed how long it would take me to reach the nearest exit. Yes, you’re annoying me. On top of that, she wouldn’t be allowed to vape the entire time, so her nerves would be especially on edge. I’d absolutely love to get a beer with Mare at the airport, but I’d prefer to be seated in separate rows on the actual plane.
5. Detective Zabel
Assuming he were still alive, I’d really like to sit next to Colin Zabel on a flight. Granted, this is mostly just because I could spend three hours fantasizing that when he accidentally touched my knee, that was his way of saying he’d like to have sex with me in the airplane bathroom. If you claim you’ve never gone through this thought process on a flight, then I’m sorry you’ve never sat next to a hot stranger. Actually, knowing that Zabel is a picky eater, he might be just as nervous as Mare, but the hotness makes it less annoying.
Zabel is great, but Richard is the ideal hot guy to sit next to on the plane. He’s a f*cking snack, but more importantly, he would also mind his own business. He might make some pleasant small talk at the beginning and end of the trip, but beyond that, he’s either reading a book or fast asleep, and I appreciate that so much. I can still do the knee-touch fantasy thing without the talking, trust and believe.
Siobhan is a great candidate for a flight neighbor because she’s a youth, and that means she has the decency to not say a f*cking word to you from the moment the flight attendants tell you to put your phones away to the second the plane touches down. Anyone under the age of 20 will have their noise-canceling headphones on the entire time, and they won’t need to get up to pee, because they weren’t allowed to take their massive Hydro Flask water bottle through security. Sitting next to Siobhan would a no-drama, no-distractions experience.
I’m about to contradict myself here, but my top two choices on this list would talk your ear off the entire time. But you know what I like even more than peace and quiet? MESS. Lori doesn’t really have her own storyline on Mare of Easttown, but she always ends up getting sucked into someone else’s drama, and I would gladly let her vent her hometown secrets to me for three hours. She’s the kind of passenger who would order three bloody Marys on a 10am flight, and honestly, I’d pick up the tab as a token of gratitude for giving me so much material.
Like Lori, Helen (Mare’s mom, if you’re bad with names) would talk the entire time, and a lot of it would be talking sh*t about the various people in her life. But she would also probably tell some wild stories about her life, all while absentmindedly playing Fruit Ninja on her iPad. As a twentysomething gay man, the demographic I appeal to the most is a 60-something woman, and I just know Helen would say something wild that I could put in a tweet that would go viral. A seemingly harmless anecdote that suddenly turns problematic? A 10-minute rant about gas prices? A reveal that she hooked up with Bruce Springsteen in the 80s? The possibilities for content are endless, and that’s the true meaning of being a good flight neighbor.
Images: Michele K. Short/HBO (9); HBO (3)