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In Showtime's small town drama "American Rust," abandon all hope ye who break down here

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12.09.2021

Perhaps the time has come for a moratorium on grim murder dramas set in bedraggled small towns. In case you doubt this, take in an hour or two of "American Rust," what with all its sooty interiors and parade of Buell, Pennsylvania's perpetually stricken faces.

Ruminate upon the inability of Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney to lighten the slow crush of sadness constricting your brain with each new tragedy presented, be it major or insignificant, and despite their best efforts to create sympathetic, fully rounded personas out of very little.

They are acting. Everybody is. But they're also working against a story that ticks all the boxes of working-class despair and then some. Does Tierney's thinly realized single mother have a deadbeat, philandering ex who takes pleasure offering her what might as well be bouquets of chlamydia? You bet.

Is there a funeral where "Amazing Grace" plays – on bagpipes? Why, yes.

Does a major character pleasure himself after surreptitiously spying on two strangers slamming bolognas in a dark boxcar? Admittedly, that is an unexpected sight. Still, it all adds up to aimless adversity porn.

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Showrunner Dan Futterman........

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