Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie
Who: “Six Feet Under,” a drama that aired for five seasons on HBO from 2001-2005.
What: Created and produced by Alan Ball, “Six Feet Under” depicts members of the Fisher family, who run their funeral home in Los Angeles, and their friends and lovers. The series traces these characters’ lives over the course of five years. The ensemble drama stars Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, and Rachel Griffiths as the show’s seven central characters.
Nathaniel Samuel “Nate” Fisher, Jr.’s (Krause) funeral director father (Richard Jenkins) dies and bequeaths to him and his brother David (Hall) co-ownership of the family funeral business. The Fisher clan also includes widow Ruth (Conroy) and daughter Claire (Ambrose). Other regulars include mortician and family friend Federico Diaz (Rodriguez), Nate’s on-again/off-again girlfriend Brenda Chenowith (Griffiths), and David’s long-term boyfriend Keith Charles (St. Patrick). On one level, the show is a conventional family drama, dealing with such issues as interpersonal relationships, infidelity, and religion. At the same time, the show is distinguished by its unblinking focus on the topic of death, which it explores on multiple levels (personal, religious, and philosophical). Each episode begins with a death – the cause of which ranges from heart attack to murder to sudden infant death syndrome – and that death usually sets the thematic tone for each episode, allowing the characters to reflect on their current fortunes and misfortunes in a way that is illuminated by the death and its aftermath through dark humor and surrealism.
When: The show aired for five seasons from 2001 to 2005 on HBO.
Where: The show is set in Los Angeles, California.
Why: Listen to the podcast for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found Six Feet Under.
How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS
Via a convoluted path, your Chief Couch Potato discovered Six Feet Under on Amazon Prime/HBO Go during the spring. My individual, crazy journey started with The Americans and wanting to watch the shows that made its two stars famous. For Keri Russell, that was Felicity (reviewed here), but for Matthew Rhys, it was Brothers & Sisters, which, as you might know, also heavily featured Rachel Griffiths as one of the Walker siblings (sister to Rhys’ Kevin). I decided to watch the shows that made other members of the Brothers & Sisters cast, several of whom were not appearing in their first television show, famous. Griffiths’ first major television success, prior to Brothers & Sisters, was this acclaimed drama, a show I’ve always wanted to watch but was never able to when it was on due to the fact that I was too poor to have HBO in the era contemporaneous to the first-run airing of this program.
In addition, several people in my life, knowing of my TV addiction, recommended this show to me, as it represented one of their all time favorite shows; some even called Six Feet Under “life changing.” In fact, a few of those people – specifically Sarah, Andrew, and new panelist Jeremy – volunteered to look back at Six Feet Under around the family dinner table, chatting about how they felt about the quirky but profound drama while enjoying food and drinks and dissecting this critically acclaimed show, which garnered a number of major awards and has since been ranked on several best-of lists (many of which are listed in the title of this post). This podcast was recorded in July 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout all five seasons. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Six Feet Under is recommended by the entire panel universally. The panelists feel that this TV show, more than most, has at least one thing that any viewer can connect with, in addition to extremely recognizable and interesting characters to which everyone can relate. Also, there is a balance of light and dark that renders the show engaging. The panelists further appreciate the “realness” of the subject matter, and the emotions it evokes as a window into others’ potential lives, lives that mirror people the viewer might actually know in real life, set against some of the surreal devices used within the program’s presentation. The panel characterizes the show as intelligent “non-fluff;” it induces the viewer to think and to feel because it’s well-written, well-performed, and readily and profoundly draws the viewer into its unique world.
Six Feet Under is available to stream on Amazon Prime and HBO Go/Now. The panelists also note that this drama is a pioneer that paved the way for the creation of some of the high quality television available today. In fact, true to advertisement by those who have loved it for some time, this show is potentially life-changing and, as the panelists all agree, definitely worth the watch.