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Programming Review: Showtime’s ‘American Rust’

Jeff Daniels in Showtime's 'American Rust'
Jeff Daniels in Showtime’s ‘American Rust’ (Image credit: Dennis Mong/Showtime)

Veteran cop, played by a big-name actor, working in a downtrodden Pennsylvania town for decades, bending the rules when necessary. It worked really well for HBO with Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown. It works well here, too, with Jeff Daniels (and co-star Maura Tierney) in Showtime’s American Rust, from the novel by Philipp Meyer. 

Daniels is Del Harris, an aging Army combat veteran and police officer in fictional Buell, Pennsylvania, home to rusted-out former steel mills and foreclosure auctions. Del, who is a little on edge due to weaning himself off PTSD meds, is romantically interested in Grace (Tierney), a divorced single mom who works a sewing machine at a dressmaker shop and is trying to bring in a labor union, Norma Rae style. Del is gruff but can be funny: I counted more humorous lines in the first 10 minutes of episode one than were in all of Mare

A homicide happens in those first 10 minutes, too, one that might involve Tierney’s son, Billy. That presents problems for Del because Billy is a good kid who unfortunately already has a criminal record for assault over a fight he tried to avoid — and because Del is in love with his mom. Another subplot involves Billy and his high-school sweetheart, Lee, who left “the Valley” but returned to help out with her abusive dad. Daniels and Tierney are at their usual excellent levels, and other solid performances come from Alex Neustaedter as Billy, Julia Mayorga as Lee and Rob Yang as Steve Park, Del’s deputy.

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.