Six Feet Under

Posted: June 8, 2010 in TV Show Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Creator: Alan Ball / Network: HBO / Years: 2001 – 2005

From the haunting opening strains of the incredible theme music by Thomas Newman to the scene of the death that will be this week’s ‘client’ of the Fisher family funeral home, you know that you are in for a different type of viewing experience. With one of the most well directed opening sequences ever, Six Feet Under makes an amazing watch across all five seasons of its run. The amazing Alan Ball (Writer – American Beauty) has put together a staggering ensemble of actors, directors, writers, photographers and editors that, without fail, present the finest hours on television. The make-up department deserves a special commendation for the work they do on the sometimes horribly mutilated ‘corpses’ of the ‘clients.’

One of the most fundamental principles for engaging an audience is to present engaging characters. Six Feet Under is a prime example: each character we’re introduced to does take some getting used to, but all are wonderfully rich and complex and three-dimensional, balanced nicely by each other. Not only the Fishers but also all their friends, acquaintances and lovers are well developed, highly involved and important to the show in its many layers. Nate’s girlfriend Brenda (Rachael Griffiths) and her manic-depressive brother Billy (Jeremy Sisto), David’s boyfriend Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) and the Fishers’ Puerto Rican employee Rico (Freddy Rodriguez) are all fantastic characters that do far more than just complement the show’s funeral home family.

Most, of all I admire the characters: some of the most complex and enchanting creatures ever to grace the idiot box. After a few episodes, they feel like a second family. Each and every character of the Fisher family is extremely well written. Right from the insecure Nate, to his sex addicted girlfriend Brenda (Golden Globe winner Rachel Griffiths). Even David (Michael C. Hall) is outstanding. Each of these characters evolves through the five seasons of this show, episode by episode.

These myriad pieces, strong characters and outstanding production values all come together brilliantly under the firm hand of Mr. Ball and provide a fascinating look into a life that we all know exists but most of us have never explored. Every time I watch an episode, I am struck back be depth of storyline, the intricate characters and the left-of-the-middle storytelling. Allan Ball’s menagerie of ghosts (past characters influencing the present), trippy daydream sequences, surreal atmosphere and some wicked black humour make for a very entertaining show and sell what would otherwise be a marketing disaster to the masses. To top that, every component from acting to directing to screenplay is flawless.

I have to give this show my highest commendations. There are, of course, moments when I feel like throwing my chair at the television, but that is simply the consequence of watching a show that challenges me, rather than offer cheap amusement. It’s a heart-wrenching ride, and probably not for everyone. I can see a lot of people shying away from a show like this, simply because it refuses to be disposable. I really can’t say enough about this show. I didn’t know TV could make me feel the way I felt while watching. The characters, their struggles, they really find a vulnerable place where insecurities and fears haunt the human condition of our culture. And with a diverse and well-acted cast, I would imagine so on multiple age levels, races and faiths. This show speaks truths, and I feel lucky to have heard them.

  1. Sahil Rizwan says:

    Said it before, I’ll say it again… There haven’t been many shows with characters as richly developed as those in Six Feet Under. Beyond amazing, really.

    I think the most frustrating bit about shows like these (The Wire… The Sopranos) is that you can never actually describe them to anyone… Not in a way that does full justice to them, anyway. And it literally hurts to hear people raving about How I Met Your Mother & 90210 & other Star World tripe because they will never bring themselves around to watching the real, gritty stuff. Hehe, their loss, I guess. Like you said, it’s not an easy watch, but worth it in every sense of the term! \m/

  2. Nitin says:

    This had aired on Zee Cafe back when it was Zee English. Was too young to understand then, but somehow the theme song was subconsciously imprinted inside my head. Chanced upon this series again when looking up Michael C Hall’s history after watching Dexter S1 back in 2007. IMO this one beats the other two shows of HBO’s holy trinity.

    So well written with amazingly fleshed out characters and emotionally draining like no other series, I’ve seen. Now, I’m recommending and sharing it with everyone.

    PS: The series finale. OMG.

  3. Gradwolf says:

    Really? Beats The Wire? If that’s true, then truly lovely!

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