Lifetime and Global TV are breaking new ground with the dramedy Mary Kills People. This six-episode series follows an ER doctor who saves people at the hospital and defies the law by secretly assisting the terminally ill to commit suicide in her off hours.
It’s been described as a “dark comedic drama.” Well, no kidding. It’s death.
As the daughter of a funeral director, death has always been a part of my life. I was just a teenager when my parents decided it was time to have “the talk.” No, not that one. The one where they discuss what I am to do if they both die or are in a coma for more than a month.
But death is still something most don’t want to talk about unless their discussing the latest serial killer drama. Then, it’s perfectly acceptable.
Ironically, while MKP was being shot, the federal government passed new law which could have made the show irrelevant. However, since Bill C-14 puts very narrow limitations on those who “qualify,” physician-assisted suicide will still be illegal for many in Canada. Meanwhile, U.S. viewers are still battling for any end-of-life rights.
It’s something writer Tara Armstrong, has always questioned. As part of a university writing assignment, she interviewed hospice workers which ultimately led to the creation of MKP. Consequently, the series offers differing viewpoints. And the scripting has been so careful that I have to marvel at the irony in naming this “Angel of Death” after Christianity’s paragon of virtue.
Dr. Mary Harris justifies her actions by saying that dying isn’t a crime. And she never administers the lethal dose. The patient does … in a champagne glass … at a place of their choosing.
It sounds lovely and idyllic. Unfortunately, in the very first scene, the drug she used from a street dealer was diluted and the patient didn’t exactly go peacefully. She had to smother him with a pillow before his wife arrived. And Mary had to go back for the cash.
Yes, this is a cash business. After all, someone’s got to pay for her recovering addict assistant and the supplies which she hides under the floorboards of her shed. Not to mention the kind nurse who refers dying patients – for a fee.
Of course, Mary claims the cash is simply to ensure that people take this step with careful thought. She has strict “protocols.”
But we can’t forget that her actions are illegal. So it’s a tad odd that she lets one elderly patient do herself in publicly on a park bench. Have to feel bad for the child who finds that cold, blue corpse.
And now the police are investigating Mary, her kids have found her stash, and her dealer is getting suspicious.
While the comedic touches certainly make the topic more palatable, this may inflame the ire of those who condemn assisted dying. But thus far, MKP hasn’t crossed the line. Even if Mary has.
After all, life is often ironic. Why not death?