A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mary Kills People approaches the subject of physician assisted suicide with a mixture of drama and black humor. People are shown drinking lethal cocktails and peacefully dying on screen, as well as being smothered, injected, and subjected to other life-ending efforts. There’s strong sexual innuendo, some swearing, and pot and cigarette smoking. People drink alcohol, and sometimes it is mixed with life ending drugs as part of the end of life protocol. With the many mature themes addressed here, parents may want to share their thoughts about the subject matter with their teens.
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What's the story?
MARY KILLS PEOPLE is a Canadian series about a doctor committed to assisting people who choose to die. While Dr. Mary Harris (Caroline Dhavernas) balances her life as a successful ER doctor and divorced mother of two daughters, she is secretly working with plastic surgeon Des Bennett (Richard Short) and Annie (Grace Lynn Kung) a hospital nurse, to find and assist terminally ill patients with taking their own lives. But things get much more complicated thanks to conflicts with their dealer (Greg Bryk), Des’ troubled past, and Mary’s new romantic interest (played by Jay Ryan). It becomes increasingly difficult to avoid getting caught and arrested, but chooses to risk it all because of her belief that people should be in control of their own lives -- and deaths.
Is it any good?
The series, which combines drama with dark comedy, takes an unflinching approach to the subject of physician assisted suicide. Mary Harris is a flawed, complicated woman who is committed to helping people, whether it be conducting a risky life-saving procedure to smothering a client who has taken the life-ending drug to speed up her/his dying process. She is strong and shrewd enough to do what she has to do in order to stay out of legal trouble, but still managers to highlight the fact that she is acting out of compassion.
Given the controversial nature of the subject matter, Mary Kills People’s matter-of-fact approach to the subject of death and physician assisted suicide may seem both over-the-top and insensitive. But this approach also pushes the subject in the limelight, and forces viewers to face it head on. While this may help some overcome the taboo that exists about death and dying, others may find the that the show’s overall tone normalizes end-of-life decisions, particularly physician assisted death, in a way that is more troubling than empowering.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about physician assisted suicide and how it's portrayed in Mary Kills People. Why do people choose to end their lives? Why is it legal in some states and not in others? What are some of the political, legal, and ethical considerations to people have to face when considering this option for themselves?
Physician assisted suicide is a very controversial subject. How has the media addressed the issue over the years? How does Mary Kills People approach it?
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