So now that you have experienced the magical madness that is Weeds, I have another Netflix suggestion for you: HBO’s Six Feet Under. Created by Alan Ball, the series centers around Nate Fisher (Peter Krause), the oldest of three, who, after spending much of his adult life away from his off-kilter parents and siblings, finds himself having to oversee the family business: a funeral parlor located in their own house. In the premiere episode, Nate’s father is killed when his car is hit by a bus. Feeling obligated to now work from home, Nate is forced to get along with his mourning mother, Ruth (the award-winning Frances Conroy), his in-the-closet brother, David (Michael C. Hall – Dexter before he was Dexter), and a misguided, troubled, much-younger sister, Claire (Lauren Ambrose). Adding to the intensity of his new, old life is his girlfriend, Brenda (Rachel Griffiths), whom he happened to nail on the Christmas Eve plane ride home, just moments after meeting her. Due to the sudden tragedy, she easily sympathizes with Nate, turning a mile-high club hookup into a full-fledged relationship.
One of the intriguing aspects of the show’s early episodes is Nate’s discoveries of facets of his dead father’s secret, almost double-life. The series’ emergent theme is that family, no matter how much one may try to deny this as a reality, is a major part of a person’s life. Nate had spent years trying to escape his destiny as a funeral director, but there he is, doing just that with much success. In the process, he is beginning to recognize that he, perhaps, never gave his father and his family a chance to develop a quality relationship with him, or even each other.
The better of the first four seasons is Season Two (not that Season One is unwatchable, but if you’re not overwhelmingly impressed, I urge you to stick with it) because it is then that the story lines and tension between the characters pick up immensely. Nate has a looming brain-condition and a bat-shit crazy fiance, David is in breakup-mode, Claire’s in love with a criminal, and even Ruth is dating again.
Seasons Three and Four have high points (namely Rainn Wilson’s-yes, Rainn Wilson-appearances), but also a few scripts that are difficult to accept as believable or realistic. I found myself thinking on a couple of occasions, “Ok. This much bad shit can’t happen to one family.” In retrospect though, I see those episodes as stepping stones to one of the finest seasons of any series of television, making them more than worthwhile. I really don’t want to give too much away, but the last three episodes of Season Five in particular are filled with some of the most profound acting this viewer has ever witnessed.
So, put Six Feet Under at the top of your queue this month. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll understand why you’ve heard all the hype surrounding the final moments of this great HBO series.