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Devil In Ohio’s Emily Deschanel Speaks To 'Authentically' Portraying Trauma From Past Abuse In The Netflix Thriller

After portraying a forensic anthropologist on twelve seasons of Bones (which had its emotional finale back in 2017), Emily Deschanel has returned to the world of crime TV, from another angle, with Devil In Ohio. In the September Netflix release, the actress leads a gripping eight-episode miniseries about a hospital psychiatrist who takes in a teen with origins in a satanic cult. For Deschanel’s role in Devil In Ohio, she explores how past abuse can affect one as an adult, a topic she was keen on telling in an authentic way. 

During CinemaBlend’s own interview with Emily Deschanel, we discussed that while Devil In Ohio is an entertaining thriller about satanic cults, at its core it’s an exploration of her character’s trauma from her childhood. Here’s what the Bones actress said about bringing this particular topic to TV following its 2017 book inspired by true events. In her words: 

It was really important and helpful to have the episodes and to know where we were going to understand what Suzanne's past was before we even started filming to begin with. And I think that Daria, who's a showrunner and creator, did a great job of authentically exploring trauma and showing how it affects people in different ways. And that was important to me to not trivialize it in some way, but also to kind of explore how that affects how people behave and what they're driven to do. And certainly for Suzanne, why she takes in her patient or her home, I found that fascinating, and it's kind of directly related to what she's experienced in her life. And that was really fascinating and important to me.

Devil In Ohio begins when Dr. Suzanne Mathis meets a mysterious teen named Mae (played by To All The Boys’ Madeleine Arthur), who has a pentagram carved into her back and no place to go. When the city’s social services get backed up, Suzanne decides to take in Mae for a few days, exposing her family to a former cult member, as they soon begin to realize. 

As Deschanel shared in our interview, it was especially important to her that Suzanne’s particular story was not trivialized, and instead explored in a way that felt real to the kind of trauma real people deal with. As Devil In Ohio progresses, we learn more about her own past with her family and how it's actively affecting her life and some of her perhaps misguided decisions to take in Mae and get to the bottom of the dangerous cult. 

While it has not been confirmed what specific case Devil In Ohio is based on, the series’ creator and book author Daria Polatin told The Columbus Dispatch that the “bones of the story are true and happened,” however, she wanted to take the story and make it a jumping off point for telling the fiction story she created. While the book is told for a YA audience, the show shifts the main perspective to Suzanne and explores the trauma she is actively dealing with in her adult life from past abuse. 

Following the actress’ recent guest star moment in The Rookie, it’s great to see Emily Deschanel in a leading series role once again. You can stream Devil In Ohio now with a Netflix subscription

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.