Six Feet Under: Alan Ball's Amazing HBO Series
Great Television as Dark and Haunting as American Beauty
The mini-series Six Feet Under is one of the most beautiful, poignant, tragic, funny, and unique shows that HBO ever produced. The boxed-set gathers all five seasons in packaging that is lovely, almost as stunning as the macabre opening titles. Alan Ball, the man responsible for the film American Beauty , created the series in 2001 and wrote and directed many of the episodes. It won Emmys, Screen Actors Guild awards and its finale is noted by many as the best ever, as is the series itself. The boxed set has great commentary and extras, and the backstory of the opening titles is fascinating.
The series centers around the Fischers, a dysfunctional family who own a funeral home. Each episode begins with a death, deaths that are mostly random, sometimes violent, but each one reveals a piece of what mortality means.
The series begins with the patriarch, Nathaniel, on his way to pick up "prodigal son" Nate on Christmas Eve. A bus plows into his hearse, and Nathaniel dies instantly. But he remains an active role by revealing himself and his experience after death to each of the members of the Fischer family throughout the series. These are some of the most poignant, surreal and funny moments in the show. Nathaniel Fischer is truthful about death, amused by the living and what they expect it be. Yet he was an enigma in life.
He makes his first (or second, because Claire, the youngest Fischer sees him at the funeral) appearance to Nate. Nathaniel (or his ghost?) is leaving on a bus, much like the one that killed him. He waves a goodbye to Nate, as the song "Waiting" by the Devlins plays. The series uses music to great effect, and two soundtracks are available, and even if the show isn't to your taste I would recommend them. Itunes also offers many of the songs individually.
It's the little details that add to the amazing quality of the things you might not notice until you see an episode for the second time. IHMO "Waiting"s lyrics are a perfect addition to Nate's vision. But look closer and you'll notice that Nathaniel is waiting for a bus on a bench; Nate is waiting to cross the street. Nathaniel's bench has an ad on it, saying "Accident" and as the bus drives away, we see another ad on the side of the bus. "A Good Night's Sleep" is the ad posted there.
The shows touches on everything from promiscuity, homosexuality, drug use, mental illness, unwanted marriage, repression of emotions....and of course, grief. But it's funny, none the less. Honest. You possibly could call it a modern day Harold and Maude meets Father Knows Best. The descriptions "dark humor" or "black comedy" don't do it justice.
It's a great series and I think it was overlooked because everyone was tuning in to the beasts on Sex and the City . Or maybe The Sopranos. Anyway.....
Buy it on Amazon. New is best because finding the last season isn't easy to find and you want the last season, I'm telling you. But work on it and you can find great deals on the used seasons or the entire boxed set. Or catch a few episodes on HBO, but it's best seen in order from beginning to end. And spoiler alert: don't watch the last episode of the last season first.
This was HBO's best work and it should not be missed.
Six Feet Under
- HBO: Six Feet Under: Homepage
The official website for Six Feet Under on HBO, featuring videos, images,music, schedule information, and episode guides.
- Six Feet Under Soundtrack CD Album
Six Feet Under Soundtrack music CD album $10.29 in stock at CD Universe, Six Feet Under-Main Theme won the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Instrumental.