Six Feet Under

Show Review: By Ben Boquist

I missed this show when it first aired, but recently came across the dvd box set. (Which, in my opinion is the only way to watch a series. Who has the patience to wait a whole week for the next episode? )

I just finished the first season and am completely hooked! The cast and writing of Allan Ball’s critically acclaimed drama about a dysfunctional family in grief management is hilarious, devastating, profound and culturally relevant.

The show (which ran from 2001 to 2005) begins when prodigal son Nate (Peter Krause) comes home for christmas only to learn that his father has died, leaving him and his brother David the funeral home.

His emotional mother Ruth (Frances Conroy), rebellious teenage sister Claire (Lauren Ambrose) and closeted brother David (played brilliantly by Michael C. Hall) round out the cast of grief stricken family members and morticians.

Sound sad? It is and it isn’t. While the show unflinchingly looks at death and tragedy (every episode begins with the death of a new client) it also provides enough warmth and humor to resonate with even the most squeamish.

When the embalmed dead sit up in their coffins and talk to members of the Fisher family (which they do. A lot) it’s never scary, and often plays more like a therapy session than a haunting.

The world of Six Feet Under is a very surreal one, where half the action happens in the heads of the characters. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to see a church full of people in their underwear or a drug induced dream sequence (just to name a few)

But what really makes the show soar are it’s characters. I like TV series more than movies, and this is why. The characters aren’t confined to a 90 minute narrative, and we can get to know them. Here, they are real people with real struggles, opinions and flaws.


This is a show that bravely goes where no show (that I’ve ever seen) has gone before. It examines human pain, grief, disappointment and longing in a way that, far from making me depressed, made me want to watch it more.

So often TV has gotten a bad rap for depicting an idealized version of reality. For years it has given us families which are so much more functional and perfect than the ones we come from; where issues get tied up neatly at the end of every episode.

Because of that, Six feet under is a breath of fresh air. Yes the Fishers are a dysfunctional mix of addictions, sexual struggles, emotional issues and disorders. But they’re good people. Kinda like us.


4 comments on “Six Feet Under

  1. Mike Hof says:

    Great review. Probably not a show I’d watch, though

  2. […] the script, Screenwriter Nancy Oliver (fresh from the HBO hit Six Feet Under) asks the question “What would happen if we treated mental illness with compassion, rather than […]

  3. […] the script, Screenwriter Nancy Oliver (fresh from the HBO hit Six Feet Under) asks the question “What would happen if we treated mental illness with compassion, rather than […]

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