Caroline Dhavernas Defends Mary Kills People's Controversial Premise

Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/Lifetime.
Hollywood loves to tip conventions on their head: The picture-perfect married travel agents who are Russian spies; the suburban mom who becomes a drug dealer; the mild-mannered police tech who doubles as a serial killer. And now, the divorced emergency room doctor who's got two daughters, an ex-husband demanding more child support, and a sideline gig in helping terminally ill patients end their lives — if the cops don't bust her first.
The catch is that Mary Kills People, premiering April 23 on Lifetime, doesn't come from Hollywood — it's Canadian. Hannibal alum (and Quebec native) Caroline Dhavernas plays Dr. Mary Harris in the six-episode series — created, directed, and executive-produced by women, incidentally — which first aired in Canada in January. The show's provenance is a complication; in June 2016 Canada's Parliament passed a bill legalizing and regulating physician-assisted dying for the terminally ill, though controversy wages on about the exclusion of those with long-term disabilities and other serious illnesses.
The events of Mary Kills People, then, presumably take place before the June legislation. Aided in her efforts by Des (Richard Short), a former plastic surgeon whose drug addiction cost him his medical license, Mary considers it her moral obligation to end a consenting patient's suffering by preparing life-ending cocktails served up in a glass of Champagne — one last indulgence before the great beyond. She's breaking the law, doing business with drug dealers, and putting her family at risk, but her conviction doesn't waver.
"You're like Joan of Arc, on a divine mission," Des observes in one scene.
"She got burned alive," Mary responds.
Physician-assisted dying has always been a hot-button topic. Though Canada may now be settling into acceptance, the same can't be said for America. Will the show sway attitudes? We put that question to Dhavernas, speaking by phone from Canada.
Read on for the actress' take.