September 17, 2007

R.I.P. Six Feet Under

It's hard to say good-bye. Once any emotional connection has been established, it's painful to watch it end. That's true whether it's with a person, a pet, or even a television show.

Three years after stumbling upon Six Feet Under, it's finally time for me to say good-bye. And it is not easy. In fact, I found it so difficult the first time that I couldn't finish watching the final season. Watching it with a friend forced me to confront the truth that doubled as the final season's slogan: "Everything. Everyone. Everywhere. Ends."

I first encountered HBO's series about a family of funeral directors when I was interning in DC. One of my roommate's had brought most of the first season with him. I sat to watch an episode from the second season with him on our first night living together that summer. I knew nothing about the show, but I was hooked before the opening credits could end. He didn't have the first season with him, though. He told me his partner was coming to see him that first weekend, and I asked if he could show up with first season as well. I spent the first month of that summer working in time to watch the twenty-six episodes of the first two seasons.

The series traces several years in the lives of the Fisher family. The viewer is introduced to the family mere moments before the patriarch (Nathaniel) dies when a bus hits the new hearse he was driving. His wife (Ruth) and his children (Nate, David, and Claire) are forced to cope with his death and with each other. Federico, a "restorative artist" with the funeral home, has his own family, but he owes a great deal to the Fishers. The viewer also meets Brenda, who Nate meets and sleeps with shortly before learning of his father's death, and Keith, David's secret boyfriend.

To understand why this show captured my attention and imagination, one really should watch an episode. The premiere would be best, of course, but any episode would serve the purpose. The stories are infused with raw, emotional frankness. The actors fill their (somewhat heavily) flawed characters with an almost uncanny power and grace. It is, at times, almost too much to watch.

The story arcs, the characters, and even the settings can be intense. The characters make stupid mistakes and foolish decisions. The series embraces the fact that these characters are human beings. The viewer, or at the very least I, could not help but to cheer for them when things go well and to hurt when their lives fall apart. They feel like a second family to me, and this is the only show I have ever seen that has caused me to want to actually comfort more than one character.

The series finale, while brilliant, hurt. It is easily the best ending I have ever seen. It, and especially the last seven minutes, were absolutely perfect and breathtaking. I wanted to cry, both from happiness and sorrow. And I can't say anything else without potentially ruining it for others.

Six Feet Under has impacted me more than I can possibly say or explain. It immediately struck a chord within me, and it hasn't really left since.

It's time for me to say good-bye to the Fisher family. Although I own the entire series, I will no longer be able to experience their lives with them. I only have my memories and what is essentially a moving photo album.

And, to paraphrase Nate, that sucks, but it's a part of life.

Posted by Randy at September 17, 2007 03:02 AM | TrackBack