“We’re not trying to say what’s right and what’s wrong. We’re just trying build a place where the debate can happen.” That, says Caroline Dhavernas, is at the heart of Mary Kills People, Global’s newest original drama.
Debuting Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the network, Mary Kills People will certainly elicit discussion about the subject matter. Dhavernas is Dr. Mary Harris, an emergency room doctor and mother whoâ€”with the help of her friend Des Bennett (Richard Short, Covert Affairs)â€”assists those who want to die. Mary struggles to keep her two careers in order while keeping her night job a secret from her family as the authoritiesâ€”led by Det. Frank Gaines (Lyriq Bent, Shoot the Messenger)â€”investigates her. Add to that Mary’s intense feelings for a terminal patient named Joel (Jay Ryan, Beauty and the Beast) and her plate is full. (Look for Bitten‘s Greg Bryk, Rookie Blue‘s Matt Gordon and Charlotte Sullivan, and InSecurity‘s Grace Lynn Kung in key roles.)
Created by Tara Armstrong and executive-produced by Tassie and Amy Cameron alongside Armstrong, Jocelyn Hamilton and director Holly Dale, the six-part event provides plenty of dark comedy to go along with the serious subject matter. (That’s 19-2‘s Adrian Holmes in the opening twisted, gruesomely giddy opening scene.)
We spoke to Dhavernas about her character, the subject matter and where the show goes in the next six episodes.
Can you give me some background on Mary?
Caroline Dhavernas: She’s an ER doctor and a mom. She has this side gig where she assists people in their wish to die. Of course, it’s completely illegal and she will get in trouble for it. It comes from a place of compassion, really, because she has been very close to people who have had to make that decision and she deeply understands where that desire comes from. She doesn’t judge it and she also knows it’s not about her.
It’s a very emotional debate and there is a lot of grey zone. It becomes a lot about not knowing what death is all about because no one has come back to say what it is. We’re very afraid to send people over the edge because it almost feels like pushing them into a place that’s too dangerous. But the place these people are in is so damaging to them that they would rather go to the unknown. I think she gets all that. Not everyone does, and that’s why she gets into real trouble. What’s fascinating about this show is that we’re not trying to say what’s right and what’s wrong. We’re just trying build a place where the debate can happen. It’s fascinating subject matter and a great part. There are a lot of levels to play.
Where do you stand on the debate of doctor-assisted suicide?
I’m on Mary’s side. [Laughs.] It’s good, as a society, to have both sides to the discussion and hear what everyone else has to say. The more you talk about it, the more you know where you stand. If anything, this solidified how I feel about it.
Describe Mary’s relationship with Des.
We don’t really explain where they’re coming from, but I’m pretty sure they went to school together and have been friends forever. Des is going through a hard time because he’s done things that are very wrong for a doctor to do and she is trying to include him in all this and make him feel like a doctor again. They’re in this together and they have a very strong bond.
How many people know what Mary is doing? I feel like she’s going to get caught soon.
It is very illegal, so she will get in trouble for it. She is trying to not let too many people know but these people have families and diaries that she can’t control. Mary has one partner at the hospital, a nurse named Annie, who sees who needs help and meets with people who are asking for that help.
Related: Our podcast chat with Mary Kills People creator Tara Armstrong, executive producer Tassie Cameron and co-producer Marsha Greene
What were your first thoughts when you read the script?
I like bold, daring subject matter and this is certainly that. I like the fact that we’re not judging anything. And, also, a strong female lead is so rare still. The director is female, the writers are female as well … that is so rare and it’s so great to be part of this team. When I met with everyone there was an immediate connection. I’d never worked with Holly Dale before, but when she showed me the mood boards and the water theme … visually it’s going to be stunning as well.
Mary Kills People airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Global.
Images courtesy of Corus.