I began Re-watching Six Feet Under from the beginning last night. Well, re-watching is only partially accurate, because although I was a huge fan of the series almost from it’s inception (thanks to Brown and his Aunt who would tape all great things on cable and pass them to him, and him to I) I wussed out and never finished it. Oh, sure, I’ve made a couple attempts, mostly in my head, to psyche myself back up and finish the show, but it just never happened. We even bought the only set we were missing, ssn 5, last christmas when best buy had one of their ‘Everything-from-HBO-except-the-Sopranos-for 19.99-you-bastards’ sales and susbsequently sat down to pick it up at the beginning of season 4 and work our way through – but we watched one episode and ditched out. So if I love the show, what gives, right?
Well, Brown has stated, and I think it’s probably at least partially accurate, that we have been refusing to ‘pull the band-aid off’.
Yeah, that’s definitely part of it. Everyone I know who has finished this show, when they begin telling me how I should finish watching it, become so unbelievably emotional it gets a little scary. But that is the kind of reaction the Fisher saga inspires in people – I know it does in me. The first person account usually goes something like, ‘My god, the last episode, it just… you get to see… oh, it’s just… everything is so there… and it’s amazing… and…’ etc.
The show has fucked me up mentally and emotionally almost everytime I ‘get into it’ and so I can see how the end, if it’s as good as it’s reactions seem to suggest, must be slightly akin to the sensations of a death in the family mixed with the most soul-searing, enlighting drug experience of all time.
In other words, this isn’t some light-hearted, watch anytime favorite. Six Feet Under assaults us – it reminds the viewer that life is never what it seems. That all the ideas put into your head when you were little, about who you are, what happens when you grow up, how people relate to one another, etc., are largely bullshit. Part of this is the natural casting-off of the fairytale we idealize adults with when we’re children* And part of it is because the structure set in the 1950’s, the ones American’s like JM and SP still want you to cling to as the operative paradigm has been annihilated by maddeningly exponential numbers of people, by a shift from an industrial paradigm where jobs are plentiful and wages are adequate to a technological consumerist nightmare where we could all work 24 hours a day (well, those of us lucky enough to have jobs) and still have to live off our credit cards. Those of us roughly Nate and David’s ages are seeing first hand this idea that as we move through life we create a path, but this path is not so clearly defined as maybe our parents or teachers or whoever led us to believe.
These can be hard and painful roads to go down, and go down them we do when we follow a family like the Fishers.
So Six Feet Under is a show, by it’s very name and nature, that deals with death. It reminds us, as does Wayne Coyne, that whether or not we realize it, everyone we know someday will die’. However that is not really the hard part of it. The hard part is the way the show deals with life, reminding us that, ‘hey, you’re not still waiting in the wings – you’ve been on the court for a while now and who knows when that whistle is going to blow.’
So yeah, whatever the message it gives, I guess, ‘if you’re gonna do it, do it now’ is close.
*But of course, another of the great revelations we reach as we ‘grow up’ is that there is no such thing as an adult, as I’ve written more intensely about here: