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It's hard to describe to those who haven't watched this brilliant show what
it's like. Six Feet Under is simply in my opinion, the best hour on
television, and one of the best shows ever. Of all time. Brilliantly
written, brilliantly told, brilliantly acted, brilliantly brilliant. I've
never used brilliant so much in a review before.
First off, it's a show about a very real family, with very real issues to deal with. The family, who have just recently lost the father consists of the mother Ruth, two sons Nate and David, and sister Claire. The two brothers run the business prviously owned by the father, a funeral parlor. I just love this show. There is not a single bad actor on the show, in every role. The family is probably one of the most real ever portrayed on TV, the characters being all easily relatable to, I myself can relate to two of them in particular. It's fresh, at times funny, at times sad, at times everything. Every single actor is amazing in their roles from Brenda to David to Keith to Ruth to Frederico to everybody. And the story lines are just so brilliant, dealing with life and it's purpose, seen throught the eyes of these people who work with death in a funeral home. It's just amazing.
I could rave on and on for hours about how great this show is and how much I love it, but I have to stop sometime. If you haven't yet watched Six Feet Under please do yourself a favor and do. I love it and it's one of my all time favorite shows. Simply, yes, you guessed it, brilliant.
Six Feet Under is meticulous, beautiful, daunting, and powerful. One
way or another, it will connect with you, perhaps in places you didn't
expect and aren't willing to expose. At times wrenching, at other times
cathartic, but always staring back at you knowingly, this show stands
head and shoulders above the advertising-driven fare that clogs network
TV with mediocrity, token minorities, and jarring commercial breaks. It
changed the way I view television, and I recommend it to anyone who's
tired of the same old crap.
After watching the series finale (which I won't spoil, don't worry), I sat in bed, unable to sleep. After poring over everything I'd seen over the past season, it struck me that SFU is the most raw and personal television show I've ever seen. Even more, there are no stand-alone episodes for easy syndication. Every single installment is part of a huge puzzle, or a few more miles on the Fisher family's road. I've always found Peter Krause to be a disappointingly flat performer, which is unfortunate because his character anchors the show, but the other actors are often transcendent. Regardless, every one of them radiates with a sometimes painfully familiar pathos. The cinematography is also staggering sometimes, taken from film rather than typical 3-camera TV work. If that's not enough, the music they choose to score the episodes is almost symbiotic; it seems ingrained into the film itself, even when you know it was just licensed.
This is not really a family-friendly show, though, encompassing profanity, nudity, violence, drug use, "alternative lifestyles" ... So in other words, it's just like real life. And despite the interpersonal conflicts that fuel the narrative to the point of melodrama, the show isn't afraid to pause every once in a while and let the show communicate without dialogue.
I feel very gratified to have watched SFU, and I've never felt that way about any other show in the almost-27 years I've been alive. Hopefully it will start a trend, if only on premium cable.
And I rarely even watch television. I'm a book person.
Not since the "X-Files" has a TV show been so intriguing. Every time I watch an episode, I am struck back be depth of storyline, the intricate characters and the left-of-the-middle storytelling. I literally cannot control myself from discussing each new episode with (bored) family members.
SFU is a very introverted show - it resembles more a book or play than television. While the latter is extroverted and relies on events happening to characters (eg: the overboard emergencies of ER or the romances in soaps) to carry the story, Six Feet Under wants to communicate the deepest feelings and ideals of the people on screen. As a result, it not only stimulates the mind but also helps us analyse ourselves.
In the hands of any other creators, this would make for a very dull hour of suburban spirituality, but 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. On top of that, every component from acting to directing to screenplay is flawless. (the dead boy's ghost in "a private life" still chills me to the bone).
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.
While I do have my complaints about the amount of obscenity, (I can swear that sometimes the writers want to offend us just for fun) I have to give my show the 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.
SFU may take a while to get into, but the rewards are bountiful.
As I was reading through the comments about Six Feet Under I was struck by
how many people expressed how this series made them FEEL. And how many
people admitted to tearing up or even crying while watching the show. I
admit I have done the same.
From the very beginning no before that From the moment I heard that Six Feet Under was created by Alan Ball, I knew I would like this show. I figured how could the maker of American Beauty go wrong? Boy am I glad I figured that.
To some degree I can relate to all of the characters on the show. And that speaks volumes because all of the characters on the show are kinda messed up in the head. And that is what I think speaks to so many people. I mean before Donahue was the most popular show on TV, I don't think most Americans even knew the word dysfunctional' as applied to the family unit. Then it seemed a badge of honor to wear. And it was ok to go about telling people that you are from a dysfunctional family just to be in'. Now after all this time and openness about our dysfunction, we begin to see how very much alike we all are. And that I feel is one of the binding elements of the watchers to this program. We sit each week and watch, basically, a part of ourselves work through personal issues, prejudices and shortcomings. Not always pretty, not always successfully but always openly, to us, the viewers. For me, to watch these characters struggle through some of their problems (which usually make mine look like a day at the beach) and let us come along with them to learn about their weaknesses and fallibilities and humanness is a lot like therapy for me. And in the end it only costs the subscription rate for HBO (no, I don't work for them).
I have never been that attached to the boob-tube (my father's word for the television) before. I have never had a reason to be. The programs that where on never more that mildly held my attention until now. I HATE commercials, I think they speak down to the public. So now I have no excuses and for that I am grateful.
Bottom line: I'm looking forward to the next few sessions uhm I mean seasons. That's my take, what's yours?
Oh my God, where do I start. This show is so amazingly awesome. I loved it after the first episode. The plot is so thick and rich. The character development is immense. It's like watching a one hour movie. Hell, it's better than most movies. The twist and turns and the ironies make you cry for more when the show is over. And I don't know, but I love the style of everything in the show. Brenda's apartment and the decorating, the whole show has this west coast down to earth natural but not stinky hippie contemporary modern ambiance. It's just a great show and it is pleasing to the eye in the process. I'm sad to hear there is just one more episode. But I will def. buy the DVD's even though I've seen all the shows!!
When using superlatives with this show it is totally fair. This show does something all other movies, shows, etc cannot do: it can safely apply any genre and still function as a deep and very entertaining show. As everybody episode goes by the show only becomes more addictive. It taps into almost every aspect of life. Every emotion is shown; love, hate, forgiveness, triumph and the list goes on and on. In fact this show depicts life the most realistically. The strangeness and peculiarity of the many themes perfectly displays the confusion in life and how it affects us. The show displays confusion in the clearest way making it almost impossible not to some how relate to the characters in the show. Not to mention also the series ends on one finest note you will ever see not just satisfying the viewer but taking the show to a level far and above anything else I have ever seen before. This show does the impossible twice over.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A drama series about undertakers shouldn't really be compelling drama, but
when I heard that this was to be a drama about undertakers created by the
writer of American Beauty and developed by HBO I took notice. Those
pedigrees instantly suggest a great series and I am happy to say I am not
disappointed. First of all this is television of almost redefining
brilliance. The series is hard edged (some of the death scenes of the
clients (i.e the guess characters whose funeral takes center stage of each
episode) tends to be quite graphic, such as the auto-erotica asphyxiation
scenario), the language frequently strong (the c-word has been uttered
frequently) and there are many number of sexual scenes. However, unlike
HBO's other golden child, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under may be undeniably
adult fare, this is a series with heart and emotional integrity and is
frequently very moving, but does so without dipping into the realms of
sentimentality. Don't kid yourself if you haven't seen this series yet,
we're not in made for television film territory here. This is dark stuff,
full of disturbing dream sequences, downright strange dream sequences and
sex of every kind (heterosexual and homosexual both get an equal look in
A great series would be nothing without great characters and Six Feet Under has them in abundance. The Fisher family are at the forefront of the story and each one has their inherent little pet foibles that mark them out as superb to watch. Nate is laid back and is starting a serious relationship with Brenda, his brother David is gay (for the first season heavily closeted), sister Clare is a teenager coping with peer pressure and boyfriend trouble, mother Ruth is severely insecure while father Nathaniel senior is, well, he's dead and his ghost shows up every so often to give guidance to his family, most often to David. Then there's Brenda, Nate's girlfriend who has a crazy, psychopath of a brother, and her subsequent problems with sex addiction. If this all sounds crazy, then you're right, Six Feet Under is crazy, but with television getting increasingly lazy by relying on formulaic reality television show, Six Feet Under is breath of fresh air. It's surreal, downright strange yet compelling and beautiful. The wonderful music score by Thomas Newman, the great scripts and wonderful direction, and let's not forget the fantastic Emmy nominated performances, all help to make this one of the most moving shows on television. The way that the family deal with the funeral at the heart of each episode and the way that the writers deal with the story makes Six Feet Under one of the most poignant shows on television today.
A series that is disturbing, puzzling but eventually moving, this is truly one of a kind.
Screenwriter Alan Ball is most well-known for his 1999 film debut
American Beauty (directed by another first-timer, England's Sam
Mendes). His first work was a stunning success, captivating audiences
all over the world and winning five Academy Awards. In 2001, the pilot
for Ball's first television series Six Feet Under aired. While being
considerably darker than audiences might have expected, the series soon
found its fan base and secured a place in the list of all time greats.
The show revolves around the Fishers, a rather isolated and dysfunctional family who run their own independent funeral home, and whose eldest son Nate (Peter Krause) is reunited with them in the wake of his father's untimely death. Once he is home, Nate learns that he has inherited the family business with his gay brother David (Michael C. Hall) and he has to learn how to again become a part of this bizarre family. Meanwhile, David, we learn, is struggling to reconcile his homosexuality with his home-taught Christian values, while his younger sister Claire (Lauren Ambrose) is forced to battle the hell of adolescence and the children's mother Ruth (Frances Conroy), a deeply devoted mother and wife, has to learn to face life without her husband. The complete first season sees the growth of the Fisher family as they slowly begin to disband their isolation and seek comfort, support and love from one another in the face of hardships and tragedy.
Six Feet Under is what every show should strive to be it is intelligent, witty, sincere, realistic and completely unashamed to show the dark, painful side of life, without being depressing or nihilistic. It deals with an unfathomable amount of very significant issues, but on such a personal and relatable level that it doesn't even begin to feel preachy or self-important. It explores society's position on gays, women, young people, the elderly, the mentally ill and looks very openly at religion and death. A series of this standard is a surprise even from the production company that brought us Angels in America and The Sopranos.
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 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.
Alan Ball is a truly gifted writer and an even more amazing artist; his ability to create such a delightfully unique environment and then to build on that environment to such incredible heights is nothing short of genius. His signature style of dark humor is one of the best things about Six Feet Under; even in a show about such somber and sometimes even morbid material, laughter is not uncommon, as he is able to recognize that there is more to life than pain. Ball has, within 2 short years, proved that he is one of Hollywood's most talented minds, and we can all look forward to further work from him.
More than any other television series in history, Six Feet Under is able to connect with its audience on a raw and emotional level that makes the sentimental soap operas of prime time television look like badly acted school plays. Joining the ranks of the most intelligent and heartfelt shows of today, it can rest assured that it will be remembered in the world of tomorrow as one of the most innovative and poignant shows of all time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the haunting opening strains of the incredible theme music by Thomas
Newman (part of The Fabulous Newman Boys, Alfred, Lionel, Emil, David and
Oscar-winner Randy -- probably the most talented Hollywood musical family
ever) 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
The amazing Alan Ball has put together a staggering ensemble of actors, directors, writers, photographers and editors that, without fail, present one of 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.'
Peter Krause (Nate Fisher) who did such an excellent job in `Sports Night' and worked with Mr. Ball before in `Cybill' is the reluctant head of the family mortuary business. He carries the huge burden of having a potentially deadly problem with the vascular system in his brain -- and like all the Fishers -- is reluctant to share the information with the people in his life that most need to know...
Specifically his fiancée, Brenda Chenowith, Golden Globe winner Rachel Griffiths, who most Americans were introduced to in the Australian film `Muriel's Wedding.' Brenda has her own secrets -- not the least of which is the effect that one of her massage clients -- a prostitute -- seems to be having on her.
Lauren Ambrose (Claire Fisher) continues to grow weekly as a character. She is fiercely independent and just as unwilling to share her life with her family as the rest of the Fisher clan. Her bitingly satirical look at the world she grew up in comes out in her language and her on-line screen name: ICDeddPeople. (There actually is an AOL profile for that screen name which adds to the verisimilitude of her character.)
Which of course brings us to David (Michael C. Hall) the gay son and real heart of the family. David has his own demons. Occasional drug use, unsafe sex and the need to be loved for who he is -- of course following in the family trait of not telling anyone about who he really is and what consumes him.
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.
The tag line says it all: `Your whole life is leading up to this...'
Admittedly I didn't care for Six Feet Under the first time I saw it. Alan
Ball's first few episodes seemed a little too reminiscent of American
Beauty. It's not that I don't like American Beauty, in fact I love it; I
just don't like to see clones. Once you get past the similar wicked wit
two share -- you'll find that Six Feet Under is completely different.
Each episode goes into a different direction every week. These characters -- like real people, grow and make mistakes. This is a wonderful show that is about those who deal with death, but isn't it ironic how Six Feet Under is true to life.
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