How Marc Cherry Hopes to Follow in Ryan Murphy’s Footsteps with New Series ‘Why Women Kill’

With his new CBS All Access show “Why Women Kill,” Marc Cherry maintains the titillating drama of his previous efforts while pushing into more “mature” territory — a move he owes to the streaming platform.

“Working on a network show where they want 23 episodes a season — it’s a really tough factory gig,” Cherry told Variety, having previously created ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and Lifetime’s “Devious Maids.” “We turned out 10 episodes of ‘Why Women Kill.’ I had so much more time and so much more money to be able to shift and shape these episodes in amazing ways. I love being in the streaming world. I could do more mature themes. I could throw in a four letter word and tasteful nudity.”

Cherry and the show’s cast spoke with Variety on the red carpet at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood on Wednesday night, which was decked out with a collage of relics from the 1950s, 1980s and present day to reflect the disparate time periods of the show’s three story lines. And though the timelines may change, what remains the same — and mirrors Cherry’s previous titles — is the series’ female focus. “I’ve been writing strong women for 30 years. I got my start on the ‘Golden Girls.’ This is my fourth female ensemble show for me,” he explained. 

Ginnifer Goodwin, whose character Beth Ann makes up one-third of the series’ main trio (Lucy Liu and Kirby Howell-Baptiste co-headline), noted her own history of strong female roles. “I’ve only done series about women. When I’m in movies, I’m generally in wonderful movies about women,” she told Variety. “I am very lucky to have yet to be on somebody’s arm.”

The team behind the show sees a trend toward more female-led shows. “It’s jam-packed with a cast of badass females. It highlights women,” actress Sadie Calvano (April) told Variety. Cherry added, “I’m glad that everyone else is coming to the party. This is what I’ve been doing my entire career, and I love it.”

“What he really understands, to an unusual degree for a man, is the deeper workings of the female heart,” Jack Davenport (Karl) said of Cherry. “He writes about it very beautifully.”

Cherry also pictures the series continuing in the same vein of a Ryan Murphy-style anthology. “If we are so lucky as to get a second season, I will wipe the slate clean and start with all-new characters and all-new situations,” he revealed.

“My hope is to establish a sort of repertory theater company and use all of the actors from season one as I can get to do it. That opens up the option for new actors to come along,” he continued. “Ryan Murphy absolutely gets credit for showing how that idea would work. It would be like ‘American Horror Story.’”

Davenport is all in for the anthology idea. “I would be delighted. What actor doesn’t like variety in their diet? We all like being in things that last for more than a year or two, but over that time being able to play different people? That’s the dream.”

“Why Women Kill” debuts Aug. 15 on CBS All Access.

Popular on Variety