Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My First Time Watching 'Six Feet Under' Finale Since It Aired

I just completed one of the most depressing assignments I’ve had in some time: Watching every single opening death scene in all the episodes of Six Feet Under’s five seasons. It was part of Six Feet Under Week on CliqueClack TV, honoring one of TV’s darkest dramas about the Fisher family, their funeral home business and their screwed up lives.

After I finished watching death, after death, after death for a post I was working on (at one point my husband, who’d just had his stomach curdled by a particularly gruesome fatal accident involving an eye and an andiron, griped, “Why did you make me watch this?”), I watched the series finale for the first time since it originally aired. That last scene. Claire driving to New York. Sia’s “Breathe Me” playing in the background. And every main character who hadn’t already passed away (such as Nate, his father, Lisa and Bernard Chenowith) aged and died, ending with Claire taking her last breath. *wiping away tears*

It was just as powerful and evocative to watch now as it was when it originally aired in 2005. Everybody dies, the episode showed us, which, of course, we already knew, but we just don’t want to envision everyone who’s close to us meeting his or her maker. In fact we try not to think about it too much if we can help it.

That’s the way the whole show was though, forcing us look at the everyday fact of death in each episode and thereby shining the light on the importance of life, of cherishing it and not wasting what time we have because the clock is ticking.

It accomplished this by spotlighting characters who were all, every one of them, flawed. They could be selfish, mean, cruel, arrogant and reckless. They could be loving, selfless, caring, clever and strong, in other words, human. And if you were going to summarize Six Feet Under it would be apt to describe it as thoroughly human, that and incredibly haunting.

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