Saturday, June 04, 2005

Anxiously awaiting "Six Feet Under"

Maggie says:
As far as I'm concerned, recent television history has given us three brilliant TV shows: Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, and Arrested Development.

To review: Sex and the City wrapped up last fall, Six Feet Under is about to begin its last season, and Arrested Development is under constant threat of being yanked by Fox (although supposedly it's safe for next season). So basically, what I think of as great television either isn't in line with what TV executives think is great television or just inherently has a very short creative lifespan. Another interesting tidbit here is that two of these three shows are on HBO, not network TV. And to throw a real wrench in this: I don't even have basic cable anymore, much less HBO, so how in the world am I going to tune into this last and crucial season of Six Feet Under?

Somehow, I'll find in a way. In the meantime, for those of you lucky readers who do have HBO and for some reason are not already as infatuated with this show as I am, let me do my best to peak your interest:

Six Feet Under revolves around the Fisher family of southern California, who run a family funeral home and are an average American family full of deceit, unhappiness, cut-throat sarcasm, and regular conversations with the late Mr. Fisher (yep, he's dead and is a regular character). The general doomsday feel of this show is marked by the fact that every episode begins by showing someone dying, who then ends up as a customer of the Fishers. So growing up in a home defined by death probably makes for some very interesting people in this family, wouldn't you say? Oh yes. Every character on this show is perfect: perfectly cast, perfectly written, so interesting. And Alan Ball (he wrote American Beauty, too) is just a genius for creating this show that so aptly gets these characters and their individual struggles (like why none of them can ever really be happy, ever really feel that they're in control of their lives). And in classic Ball fashion, there's a twist to everything: the most stable relationship is a gay couple, the homemaker mother was having affairs long before her husband was killed, etc. This show makes we wish I wrote it, makes me wonder how I can be such a combination of intellectual cynic and obnoxious optimist, makes me think we probably all are on some level.

I can't say it enough: Six Feet Under is brilliant. Give it a try. (And once you're hooked, all the old seasons are on DVD at Blockbuster!)


Anonymous Jessie said...

Knowing that SFU is back on and I have absolutely no conceivable way of watching it makes me more than a little crazy. I have rabbit ears only; none of my friends have the deluxe cable package; I am screwed. [side rant: when is a la carte cable going to happen? i'd like to be able to just order up a few months of HBO and nothing else. why can't I?]

And WHAT IS UP with HBO taking YEARS to release it on DVD -- I mean, they just released Season 3, and that on was how long ago?

Hands-down, the best TV show ever. Guess I'll get to see how it all goes down when they put it all on DVD sometime in, say, 2009. *sigh*

9:30 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

I'm with you, Jessie. While I actually find it very refreshing and freeing not to have cable anymore overall, there are times I would kill for a baseball game, some news, and some HBO. So I hear you on the a la carte cable.

We should find a bar in town that would let us cable refugees have "Six Feet Under" nights there every Monday. We could get a good group together... :-)

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Jessie said...

I'm with you! I'd considered it last Monday, but couldn't think of an appropriate place where I'd be able to convince them to change the channel away from ESPN and be able to hear the dialogue.
Any suggestions? I'd be first in line to that party...

12:29 PM  
Blogger Arvin Hill said...

I cancelled DirecTV after last year's season finale, and recently resubscribed so as not to miss the series' swan song.

This show unflinchingly demonstrates the complexity of being human - vulnerability, flaws and scars.

The show's visual aesthetic speaks for itself. Every episode - despite all the various guest directors - has the look and feel of a feature length film.

Whatever criticism I have of Six Feet Under is largely irrelevant if only because the show on its worst day is a thousand times better than the best of the rest of series television.

But perhaps my favorite aspect of SFU is its subversive quality. By bringing us protagonists who - shock and horror! - like to get high and fuck their brains out, Alan Ball has delivered a serious blow against our collective puritanical delusions.

It's been a hell of a ride.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous jessie said...

*sigh* another night knowing that millions of other people get to watch lauren ambrose without me... oh the humanity!

3:11 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Arvin, your last paragraph was genius! I know, Jessie, I know -- where do you think we should try for an SFU night? I can't come up with a good place.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous jessie said...

Still thinking...

1:26 PM  
Blogger Arvin Hill said...

[insert blush here - I don't do compliments well, maggie!]

* * * * * * * * * *


Damn. Ruth and George are both paying for the sins of self-indulgence from last year, aren't they?

I never thought I'd feel sorry for George. And Ruth's seeeeeething anger and resentment is wince-worthy. It's understanble, but she's not exactly making it easier on herself (but why start now).

And Claire, Claire, Claire. After coming into her own last year, she's definitely falling back into her obstinate old habit of self-pity. She and her boyfriend are ripe for a hard crash & burn. They're both acting like strung out meth freaks and I haven't even seen 'em do a drug one.

Billy, you sick, sick bastard. I'm sorry - I really am - but you are not "such a rock star!" either on or off anti-psychotic meds. The Meltdown Cometh. (Jeremy Sisto is an extraordinary actor, though, isn't he? Yeah, I know - they all are.)

The humor is as twisted as ever.

...Brenda, trying to realize her perfect family dinner fantasy, imagines Nate snapping "We'll never be a real fucking family no matter what you fucking saute!" A belly laugh, but an uncomfortable one.

...Ruth, disgusted after doing laundry and having extricated food out of George's pockets: "Try not wear spoiled food, George."

...the creepy surrogate mother enlisted by David and Keith. Here comes trouble - in the form of a psychotic Barbie.

...Illeana Douglas (an actress I've long adored whose character I am oddly drawn to and equally repulsed by). After the tryst with Rico, I'm wondering when we get to see her boyfriend. I'm guessing he's a little rough around the edges - and probably bigger than Rico by a factor of three. Hilarity will most assuredly ensue.

I really don't get the people bitching about this show being so depressing. My guess is that it's fatigue from the warts-and-all depictions of human nature. These characters are a lot of things, but pretty doesn't sum up any of 'em.

12:32 PM  

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