Six Feet Under

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My wife had been on at me for years to watch this series with her and I tended to respond in quite an unenthusiastic fashion. I thought it would be just a little bit too weird and melancholy. It came out when I was 17 and I saw glimpses of the series and I don’t think I was quite ready for it.

We had come to the end of Game of Thrones and we were lacking shows to watch. I suggested Six Feet Under much to Amy’s surprise. I have now watched every episode and my opinion is that this is one of the best shows I have ever seen. I warn you that it is not for the faint hearted and it tackles some tough and taboo subjects.

The show follows the Fisher family after the death of the father Nathaniel. He was head of the house in quite an old fashioned traditional sense. He ran the family funeral parlour from their large house, which was now left to his sons David and Nethaniel Jr. David had always been involved in the business working with his Dad. Nathaniel Jr ran away from the responsibility at home and never wanted to return. The death of his father left him little choice but to return although this was always a struggle.

As you can imagine, death holds a prominent part of the series. It covers grief, pain, anger, tradition and religion. Some deaths are gruesome where as others are peaceful. Their father is a constant presence in their life and a source of guidance. His death brings up many questions about him. How well did they actually know him?

There are a great deal of hard topics covered in the show. From the outset we have death which is the main focus. We see characters struggle with their own and others homosexuality, we see drug use, mental illness, sex, religion, racism, violence, cultural difference, physical illness, family break ups, incest, murder…. I could go on. I have to confess that I did at times get a bit down about it all. The acting is absolutely fantastic from all those involved. Never once do you see the actor, only ever the character they are playing. You feel their emotion and go along the rollercoaster ride. They all suffer at some point in their lives and struggle, but somehow they always stay together. Beyond the chaos there is a great deal of love.

The family consists of Mother who struggles with her own mental health issues. She struggles with the fact that she married so young and started a family without really experiencing things that young people do. It is clear that her relationship with her husband was not easy or loving. She is often on the cusp of breakdown and feels confused.

The oldest son is Nethaniel who is an idealist who likes to run away from reality. He never wanted to be part of the business although his father even in death had other ideas. The business is left to him and his brother which left him obligated to run the funeral business. He often picks the most destructive relationship, but finds solace in sex and love with others. His physical health plays a major role in the show.

The middle child is David who has always been part of the business in the hope to get acknowledgement from his father. He feels that he is often taken for granted, has to take on everyone’s burdens, move the business forward and hold everything together. He has his own troubles, particularly a secret which he has kept from his family. A secret that has challenged his faith, friendships and love life. He has always felt like the odd one out.

We finally have the youngest Claire who is often self destructive. She dabbles in drugs and alcohol despite only being a teenager. She was her Dads favourite and his death has left a major void. She struggles to develop a relationship with her mother. She also struggles to find the right man who can support her and doesn’t need her support. She is an artist and enjoys experiencing many different things. She tries to live her dream although her grief often takes away her focus.

There is a really strong supporting cast who have a major role. Their lives bring up a multitude of issues and often become tangled up with the Fisher family. There are are few happy and funny moments, but generally the issues are hard hitting and dark. This is one of the best series I have seen. The acting is brilliant and worthy of many awards. It us not a show for everyone, but there will be elements that nearly everyone can relate to.

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9/10

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