A&E’s “Those Who Kill” will be the latest Scandinavian crime drama remake to turn up on U.S. screens on March 3rd, following “The Killing” and “The Bridge.” It stars Chloë Sevigny and James D’Arcy as homicide detective Catherine Jensen and forensic psychologist Thomas Schaeffer, who track down, you know, people who kill. The series comes from executive producer Glen Morgan (“The X-Files”), who accompanied the two leads to the TCA press tour alongside fellow executive producer Brian Grazer. What became clear during the panel for the series is that, amongst critics, at least, the dark series is going to have to battle a lot of serial killer fatigue.
Asked about the familiarity of the premise of investigators who get inside the mind of killers and have their own scary side, Morgan (who worked on “Millennium,” with just such a set-up), said “we did that a little bit and then kind of veer away from it.” He added that they’re aware of a possible saturation point for tropes like that and that “we’re trying to do our best to stay clear of that.”
Grazer defended the show against a question along the same lines about it being another serial killer story added to a television schedule already packed with them: “If it were a movie, it would be a cautionary tale, and I felt it was a way to create an empowerment vehicle. I know that the serial killer aspect is a very big component to it, but I don’t feel like that’s the driving force.” He instead spoke of having a powerful female role and “multi-dimensionalized character” in Catherine. “Our show really is trying to be about the victims,” Morgan added. “When it was first brought up to all of us, there was Penn State. And in writing it, there was Aurora. While we were shooting, Sandy Hook had happened a couple hours before. We’re trying to talk about the ramifications of violence, of what the victims have to suffer, and it’s just not done when you lock the guy away or he happens to die.”
Sevigny noted that this trauma particularly affects her character, who’s spent a long time trying to take down her stepfather, who’s a respected judge, and who she feels killed her brother after abusing both of them. “She’s shut herself off from the world. She can’t function in any relationships. She has some tenderness with her mother, but other than that, she can’t really function as a human. And she thinks as soon as this ends with her brother and she brings it to light, what happened to him, that this cloud is going to lift and everything’s going to be better, but it might not necessarily be that way.”
As for why serial killer stories have remained so popular, Morgan feels they are “our 21st century monster. It’s the same as the wolf man and stuff, but everyone knows now there’s no wolf man or whatever.” Grazer added that procedurals about tracking them down make it “seem like bad guys do get caught. There’s a consequence. I think there’s more redemption in it, and so I think we come to it from that side.”
Sevigny and D’Arcy, either way, weren’t intimidated by the dark material — both feel comedy is harder. D’Arcy said that it’s “the thing that wakes you up at 3 o’clock in the morning because it’s such a technical art” and “on a set, nobody can laugh,” which makes attempting humor scarier without the feedback. Sevigny added that when she guested on “The Mindy Project” last season, she’d “go home and cry because I thought I was terrible on it.”