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Mary Kills People on Lifetime

Lifetime’s ‘Mary Kills People’ Mixes Medicine and Murder

April is shaping up to be a wonderful month for Bryan Fuller fans: in addition to next week’s premiere of American Gods on STARZ, Wonderfalls and Hannibal alum Caroline Dhavernas stars in Lifetime’s latest scripted drama, Mary Kills People, which follows the morally murky actions of a doctor who moonlights as an angel of mercy. Considering both Hannibal and Wonderfalls suffered unmercifully early ends, here’s hoping Mary Kills People is the long-overdue Caroline Dhavernas title that doesn’t end up pushing daisies.

Viewers of Showtime’s Weeds might sense strong similarities, as both shows center on single mothers struggling to shield their children from their illicit side hustles. Unlike the dark pot comedy, though, the narrative opportunity for assisted suicide hijinks is understandably slim. Still, there are moments of levity that bring to mind Dhavernas’s former role as Jaye Tyler; as many other great series have demonstrated, a well-timed laugh can help underscore even the darkest scenes.

Richard Short (666 Park Avenue) and Jay Ryan (the CW’s Beauty and the Beast) play Mary’s accomplice and romantic interest, respectively, though foreseeably those roles could reverse. Both bring enough charm and charisma to their performances to establish the potential for a Lifetime-approved love triangle sometime down the line.

By the end of episode two, it remains unclear still what Dr. Mary Harris’s true motivation is for hastening the deaths of her terminally ill patients.  Given the ethically ambiguous subject matter, viewers might wish for a Dexter­-style narration to better understand and sympathize with her. Because Mary offers her services (specifically, a champagne flute spiked with a lethal dose of pentobarbital) on a for-profit basis, compassion seems only a piece of the puzzle. But, as a successful ER doctor, money also appears to be of little concern to her. Hints at Mary’s backstory imply she watched her parents die of unknown illnesses, so presumably this mystery will be explained further as the six-episode first season progresses.

Despite predictable twists and some soapy contrivances, the new title makes an excellent addition to Lifetime’s scripted slate. For the channel’s growing fanbase anxiously waiting on season three of UnREAL, Mary Kills People provides a welcome and equally obsessable distraction.

Watch new episodes of Mary Kills People on Sundays at 10pm ET on Lifetime.