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Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under

By Patrick Samuel • December 13th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Original airdate: June 3rd, 2001 to August 21st, 2005
Running time: 2835 minutes

Created by: Alan Ball

Cast: Richard Jenkins, Frances Conroy, Michael C. Hall, Peter Krause, Lauren Ambrose, Rachel Griffiths, Freddy Rodriguez

Six Feet Under

It wasn’t until long after Six Feet Under ended that I became interested in the lives of the Fishers. I knew next to nothing about the show which ran for five seasons from 2001 to 2005, yet somehow on Boxing Day, 2007, the entire box set seemed like a great idea at an incredible bargain of £49. Later that day I watched what would be my first full episode of the show and by the next day I had finished the first season. I’d truly never seen anything like it before.

In the opening episode, it’s Christmas Eve and funeral director Nathaniel Fisher (Richard Jenkins) is on his way to collect his son wayward Nate (Peter Krause) from the airport. His wife Ruth (Frances Conroy) is at home preparing a pot roast as his younger closeted gay son, David (Michael C. Hall) reads a newspaper at the kitchen table. Meanwhile, teenager Claire (Lauren Ambrose), the youngest in the family, is busy having her first drug experience with crystal meth.

Along the way, Nathaniel takes a call from Ruth who wants to know if he’s taken his blood pressure medication. She then suspects he’s smoking.

RUTH: Nathaniel, are you smoking?
RUTH: Yes you are. I heard you.
NATHANIEL: I’m not. No, I’m not.
RUTH: Look. Forget you’ll give yourself cancer and die a slow and horrible death, you should not be stinking up that new hearse.

Like any other family, the Fishers have many secrets, frustrations, wounds, disappointments and heartbreaks but before any of that starts to unfold, the unexpected happens. The hearse Nathaniel’s driving in is hit from the side at an intersection by a bus and he’s killed instantly. The show then takes another unusual turn we when realise that death hasn’t caused Nathaniel to completely leave his family’s side. He maintains a strong presence throughout the show, appearing in the dreams and fantasies of his wife and children. Sometimes offering support, other times chiding them for their stupid and selfish behaviour, which come in copious amounts.

Six Feet Under

The Fishers, as they’re left to cope with a funeral of their own, embark on a journey that will see all they’ve kept hidden for so long come out into the open; Nate’s inability to settle down, David’s sexuality and Claire’s rebellious streak. Trying to make sense out her children’s lives is Ruth, but even the matriarch of the Fisher family isn’t free of secrets, having been involved in an extramarital affair. Yet as the seasons progress her character evolves in a way that helps her adapt to changes much more effectively than her children and for this reason she’s perhaps my favourite member of the family.

As Six Feet Under draws to a close with season 5’s 12th episode, Everybody’s Waiting, the final minutes can only be described as one of the best finales in television history. Playing out to Sia’s Breath Me, we’re Six Feet Undertreated to each of the main characters’ futures with a series of deeply affecting and memorable flash-forwards as Claire sets off for a new life in New York with an open road ahead of her and much life in her eyes.

To this day it still chokes me up, and always at the same moments; David catching sight of his partner Keith just before his moment arrives. The finale is so effective and I wouldn’t be alone in suggesting that it’s set the standard for any other television show that’s wrapping up to live up to, prime examples of this are Medium and Desperate Housewives.

My introduction to the Fisher family was a fast one; we finished the box set within a fortnight, probably setting some kind of record. It was hard not to race through it, there are so many episodes (63 in total) worthy of discussion, but the first and final episodes are the ones that will stay in my mind and heart the longest for the beautiful and poignant way they bring life full circle.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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