This article contains spoilers for The Horror of Dolores Roach season 1.
The Horror of Dolores Roach season 1 dropped Friday, July 7 on Prime Video, telling the story of a masseuse who kills her clients and disposes of the bodies by selling them as empanadas. Those of you who have seen it (Spoilers!) may have thought the story was over when Dolores finally found her way to an address she had been told belonged to her ex-boyfriend, with the episode cutting to black as she leaps in to strangle whoever answers the door. But according to Aaron Mark, the show’s creator (and the writer of the podcast and stage play the TV series is based on), there is still a great deal more to tell.
Of course, viewers who can’t wait to see what Dolores Roach does next have the option of checking out season two of the original podcast, which sees Dolores go underground (literally) as she finds a community living in abandoned New York City subway tunnels.
But while Mark stops short of saying we definitely won’t see those adventures play out on screen, he wants to take Dolores in a different direction.
“We decided to set the events of season one in 2019, pre-Covid, for several reasons, the primary one being it’s pre-Covid any story told during Covid becomes about Covid,” Mark says. “The framing device of the TV series is set four years later, in the present day in 2023. So we have set up a gap in time and given ourselves the ability to tell Dolores’s story starting right now. We’ll fill in what happens in those four years, which may or may not include the events of the second season of the podcast, but I’m much more interested in telling the story of where she is now, four years later, now that she’s become famous.”
Speaking to Mark, and learning about how Dolores Roach was inspired by his time living in Washington Heights, it’s hard not be to reminded that The Horror of Dolores Roach features one character who adapts Dolores’s story for the stage, and a podcast, and eventually for a streaming service, just as Mark has done. In fact, the framing device for the entire series is Dolores cornering the lead actress because she doesn’t like the way her story has been told.
If the Dolores Roach TV series continues, Mark would like to go deeper into that meta-aspect of the story. And as with the first series’ themes of gentrification, it all comes down to cannibalism.
“Should we be lucky enough to keep telling this story for television there will be a lot more of that moving forward,” Mark says. “We will be dealing with the idea of symbolic cannibalism and the idea of Dolores’s life being ripped from her hands, and her neighborhood taken away. I was struck by the idea that all she has left is her own story and the idea that that would be taken from her too was really fascinating to me.”
As Mark points out, it is a timely subject. In 2023, true crime on television is big business. For Dolores, a character who says she just wants to be under the radar, leading a simple, normal life, it is exactly the environment she doesn’t want to end up in.
“She wants quiet,” Mark says. “To make her famous? That is just endlessly fascinating to me. And that’s the story I hope we’re able to continue to tell: What happens when this person who wants no attention at all is suddenly one of the most famous serial killers on the planet?”
That conflict goes to the heart of the morally gray nature of Dolores as a character, which is something Mark actively looks for creatively.
“I think there’s a great deal of pressure in mainstream media to be definitive about the ethics and morality of a character and I’m really proud we don’t do that with Dolores,” he says. “We try to let each viewer really grapple with this. Personally, I know she desperately wants to be a good person. I say she’s a serial killer who’s not a sociopath, and that’s debatable but it’s how I approach her. What I mean by that is she is always questioning herself. She doesn’t forgive herself, so the viewer has the opportunity to forgive her. She is never saying I had to do this, it was the right thing, that person deserved it. She is saying ‘Oh my god, what have I done? Am I the monster?’”
For Mark, that line of moral self-questioning is the heart of the story, and what makes Dolores relatable as a character. But just as Dolores confronts the writer of her story in the first series, might she have a chance to confront her audience in season two? That audience might find it harder to forgive her then…
All eight episodes of The Horror of Dolores Roach are available to stream on Prime Video now.