Six Feet Under, HBO's most accomplished and consistently excellent show, ended a little more than two years ago. So why review the show, and learn about it now? Six Feet Under is much more than it seems. A rich show with several layers, it's all about people living their lives, making discoveries about themselves, and of course some drama, romance, and suspense thrown in for good measure. Not only is the show the best and most amazing show in television history, but it is also an incredible portrayal of human life and what it means to live. We live, we die, and the world keeps moving on. Six Feet Under is all about life and loss and all of the emotions, horrors, and realization that come with it. It is at times depressingly realistic, but it can also be beautifully true. There are so many beautiful things in this world, and if you just look or listen, you can find them. You can take joy in your life and make it worth living.
The dialogue, the writing, and the acting make this show a real treasure, and there isn't a single flimsy patch in this perfectly built house. Every time a character has an argument or gives a big speech, everything is just perfectly laced with dark humor and an often cynical approach to life that everyone can openly relate to. We've all lost people that we care about, and we all have to move on. All of these situations and interactions seem so entirely human and possible that they really pull you in with their hard-hitting content. Which is also to say that this show doesn't hold anything back. It's raw. It's mean. It's real. There are practically no boundaries because that's exactly what life is; it's a big roller coaster ride of breaking rules, learning lessons, making mistakes, meeting new people, and new experiences. This show never teaches and preaches: it tells it like it is, and doesn't bother with subtlety.
After the oldest member of the family, Nathaniel Fisher (Richard Jenkins), is killed suddenly in a car crash, all of the Fisher family is brought together under the strangest of circumstances. The family is very off-beat and bizarre, and each member lives (or lived) in the family house, a very large funeral home. There is: Ruth Fisher (Frances Conroy), caring, troubled mother who is still not sure what pleases her; Nate Fisher (Peter Krause), oldest son who was coming home for the holidays when tragedy struck; David Fisher (Michael C. Hall), closeted homosexual who takes over the family business in the wake of Nathaniel's tragedy; and Claire Fisher (Lauren Ambrose), quirky young high school student who becomes obsessed with photography. And of course, there is Federico Diaz (Freddy Rodriguez), facial restoration expert who works at the funeral home, Brenda Chenowith (Rachel Griffiths), a woman Nate meets in the first episode and becomes extremely attached to, and Keith Charles (Matthew St. Patrick), David's boyfriend and a mysterious figure to the rest of the family. The show is all about the budding family business, losing a loved one, Nate's reluctance to embrace his family, and David's reluctance of coming out, along with much more.
The show is host to a series of spectacular performances from the likes of Michael C. Hall and Lauren Ambrose to the underrated Rainn Wilson and Peter Krause. Most of these episodes are filled to the brim with such heady emotional drama that if the wrong actors were participating, the show would be a total wreck. There are so many fantastical opportunities and guest appearances, and there were some truly amazing episodes every week. The people with smaller roles are even spectacular, and the ones that come in later in the series are simply to die for. Some of my favorite smaller-role characters: Bettina, played by Kathy Bates; Maggie, played Tina Holmes, Gabe, played by Eric Balfour; and Jimmy played by Peter Facinelli. It is also of note that nearly every cast member in any given episode contributes to the altogether perfect and realistic quality of this series.
Six Feet Under might have ended in 2005, but its relevance to society and culture will probably not fade for quite some time. It remains the best show of all time simply because it was consistently superb, with not a single bad episode. The writing was the very best and there were constant references to previous seasons. With the finale, everything came full circle and we are left to reflect on our lives and the entire series. Each scene is so rich with detail and the final ten minutes are just stunning. After seeing this finale, this show truly moved from being extremely excellent to being the best show ever. After watching through the series twice now, it has become all the better because of the season finale. The characters are just so perfect and they are given what can only be described as extremely satisfying conclusions. There has arguably never been a more thought-provoking, realistic, moving, spectacular scene in the history of television. If you're a lover of Six Feet Under, here are some amazingly good recommendations: check out Dexter, Queer as Folk, Nip/Tuck, and Heroes.