Mary Kills People will premiere tomorrow night, and even before that first pilot episode airs, the Entertainment One drama is already stirring controversy with its unique take on doctor-assisted suicide. While much of the country seeks to change right-to-die laws in an effort to give the terminally ill the right to die with dignity and on their own terms, Mary Kills People takes those issues and forces the television-viewing public to confront them. Mary Kills People delivers the morals of the right-to-die issues in a dramatic format, combining related social issues with emotional stories, but Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal), who stars as Mary Harris, believes the series is more than a sum of its parts.
Mary Kills People Creator Tara Armstrong On Tackling The Touchy Issue Of Euthanasia
The title of Tara Armstrong's new series might just as easily precede a slasher flick, but, while Mary does, in fact, kill people, they are people who don't want to live, but are compelled to live and suffer. Talking with Toronto Star, Armstrong says she developed the idea for Mary Kills People while she was still going to college, though she admits that the seeds for this idea were planted even earlier than that. Tara reveals she has always been intrigued by death and she says that obsession ultimately led her to choose hospice care as the subject of a non-fiction film project.
"I chose to go into a hospice and interviewed all the people who worked in there; it kind of came from that," Armstrong says.
Tara adds that she chose the name "Mary" for its biblical connotations. She admits that there might be a note of sacrilegious humor in relation to Caroline Dhavernas' name on Mary Kills People, but she's okay with that. She doesn't want the series to be too morose.As for the star of Mary Kills People, Tess says Dhavernas wasn't her first choice. In fact, the casting call was a long process with many qualified candidates reading for the part of Mary, but Tara says Caroline's performance left her stunned. She knew, right at that moment, that she had found her Mary Harris.
"For me, she just is Mary," says the Mary Kills People creator about Caroline Dhavernas. "I get goosebumps all the time just watching her."
Caroline Dhavernas On Becoming A Fictional Doctor Death
In Mary Kills People, Caroline Dhavernas plays an emergency room doctor named Mary Harris. As the Hollywood Reporter shares, Mary fills her evenings in the company of a colleague, a former plastic surgeon, Joel, offering their services to those in need of unique medical assistance. As Mary Kills People sets Mary and her partner at odds against the law, Canada, the country in which creator Tess Armstrong created the series, has newly decriminalized doctor-assisted suicide.
As Caroline says, confronting the real social issue as well as her role in Mary Kills People, "Dying is not a crime."
In most places, suicide and aiding those in the act are still considered crimes with the state taking jurisdiction over the individual's right to die, but, like many, Dhavernas says that should be a private decision.
"Personally, it's someone's right," says Ms. Dhavernas. "If you have nothing but suffering ahead of you, we make choices for ourselves through our lives, and that's the final one."
While the social position of the show would seem obvious, Caroline says Mary Kills People gives both sides of the argument equal time. While some stories do present the idea that everyone should have the right to choose, other stories deal more closely with the moral implications with characters who have a difficult time reconciling the issue.
"Since the beginning of television, we've seen life and death situations," says Mary Kills People's Dhavernas. "That's what people are drawn to. And these moments, where people die with dignity, are filled with emotion and intensity, and beauty and meaning. They're everything but depressing."
Mary Kills People premieres on Wednesday, January 25, on Global.
[Featured Image by Entertainment One]