Lifetime’s Mary Kills People is a provocative examination of people’s right to die. Dr. Mary Harris (Caroline Dhavernas) is a life-saving ER doctor by day, who secretly moonlights as an “end of life” consultant, helping terminally ill patients end their lives on their own terms.
The topic is polarizing and viewers must decide for themselves if Mary is a compassionate doctor or a serial killer. “We make decisions for ourselves all through our lives, and the terms of our death should be the final one,” says Dhavernas, giving rationalization to her character.
Without Mary’s help, people in her nameless American city with terminal diagnoses face unattractive end-of-life options. “It’s either suffering some more,” explains Dhavernas, “or — as we say in the first episode — going to Switzerland [where assisted suicide is permitted] and dying on their own in a very depressing hotel room with people they don’t know.” Mary provides a more dignified and celebratory option: a lethally laced champagne toast that gently ushers the client into a permanent sleep. “I actually think it’s really beautiful instead of having to do it in a very brutal and violent way,” says Dhavernas. “Because that’s one of their options as well.”
Mary’s partner in her medical endeavor is Des, a former plastic surgeon whose drug addiction cost him his medical license. “He’s obviously her partner in crime, literally,” laughs Dhavernas. And in addition to assisting in the procedures and handling some logistical minutiae of their illegal business, Des uses his connection to drug dealers to source their necessary — and deadly — chemical.
But life (and death) doesn’t always go as planned, leading Mary to find levity in unexpected places. “It leads to very dark humor, but that’s my favorite kind of humor anyways,” says Dhavernas. “To be able to have a laugh about it after doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the moment that just happened.”
Mary Kills People > Lifetime > Sundays ay 10pm ET/9pm CT, beginning April 23