The final season of Mary Kills People begins tonight on Global TV. As anyone who loves TV or creates TV knows, series are not always fortunate to be given a proper conclusion.
During a set visit, I spoke with executive producers Marsha Greene, Tassie Cameron and Amy Cameron about the final season. Below, we chat about ending it in a way that satisfies viewers and the people who brought it to life. We also discuss how Mary Harris is part of a shift in how female characters are portrayed.
Can you share a bit about going into this season of Mary Kills People knowing that it would be ending? And how did that affect the writing process?
Marsha: When we first talked about it in the writer’s room, [we asked] as fans, “What would make you happy? What would make you feel satisfied?” I had some very strong opinions of what should and should not happen which changed over the course of the season. I had certain ideas, but we had other things we wanted to do this season that weren’t necessarily about it being the final season. Things we wanted to explore. As those stories took shape, it started to lead us more naturally to a different end in certain places. It ended the way it was supposed to based on the stories that we’ve told and the things that we wanted to do. It did become a bit full circle, and that’s what I wanted.
Amy: We had so many iterations of how it could potentially end. There’s so many different ways that you could see this story come to a close. In our final mix last season, the network was sitting there, our partners at EOne, everybody who’s been there since they first read Tara [Armstrong’s] original script, and someone says, “What happens to Ben?” And as a sort of shit disturber move, I called out, “Well, he dies,” and the entire room exploded. It was quite startling to have the core team of people who’ve been a part of this from the beginning to have such a strong reaction. But then, we could have said he lives and they would’ve had the same [reaction].
For these [writers] to have written a finale that satisfies them means that inherently, I believe that the fans will be satisfied. They’ve gone through every iteration of every avenue. This is the best of the 100 endings that could have happened.
Tassie: It’s a real privilege to get to write a season knowing that it’s the final season. It’s really a lovely thing. You make a list of things you want to explore, that you owe to these characters and your audience. Then you try to figure out the most elegant way to approach them. You know it’s the final chapter. It feels quite literary. Rather than having to balance the artistry with the realities of leaving people with a cliffhanger, you could indulge in the artistry of a final season.
When you write seasons of a show and get cancelled, you’re left with characters halfway through their journey. And you feel really frustrated as a writer.
In the past, there was some resistance to female characters with unlikeable qualities. Do you think that Mary Harris helped pave the way for more complex, nuanced portrayals of women on TV?
Marsha: I have become aware — and I was really aware in the second season — of what a special and unique show this is. There really isn’t anything like it on television. It is so unique tonally. There are so many different things to explore, and I don’t think that anybody else really gets to work on a show like this. I feel really grateful that I got this job.
Tassie: There is a real movement towards being open to complicated, messy heroines that’s been happening in the last three or four years. Mary’s part of that wave. The questions we were asked when we were developing the first season — very understandable questions about why she does what she does, is she going to be a good mother, is she likeable — were a real focus of concern for people. Those questions have almost entirely disappeared as we’ve gone further in exploring this character. Mary is who she is, and people aren’t debating whether she’s good or bad anymore. We’ve done our job because we’ve created a character who does what she does. Nobody is questioning it because it’s authentic to her.
Mary Kills People airs Sunday nights at 8pm ET/PT on Global TV.
Read Heather’s preview of tonight’s season premiere, and stay tuned for more interviews with the cast and producers throughout this final season.
Update 8/6/22: All three seasons of Mary Kills People are now streaming on Global TV in Canada and Roku Channel in the US.
Image Courtesy of Global TV