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The pilot of Six Feet Under already had me torn: it looked funny, the characters were promising and the overall concept of the show was great; but I was worried when I realised how much it impacted me emotionally.
We all grow to love or hate characters on TV shows and really feel with them when they go through times of chaos, happiness or a series of embarrassing incidents.
We all cried over Charlie’s death in Lost, and felt hung-over with The Wire’s Bunk.
I realised how much it impacted me emotionally
But I have never been so engrossed by the lives of TV characters, as I was with the Fisher family. Each and every character on this show is so defined and so incredibly convincing, I voluntarily immersed myself in their dramas and their agonies.
The actors – well there’s just no words to describe their best performances to date.
I’ve seen Frances Conroy appear in American Horror recently, and Peter Krause in Dirty Sexy Money and Parenthood, but their roles are nowhere near as good as those of Ruth and Nate Fisher.
Well, enough chit-chat for now, let’s get started on the big Six Feet Under Special: A Detailed Guide To The Best Show Ever!
Like I said, each and every single season of Six Feet Under is special, incredibly well thought out, confronting and abstract in its very own way.
From the very first to the very last season, this show has found the perfect balance between darkness and humour.
Although Nate’s “accidental” girlfriend Lisa (Lili Taylor) really got on my nerves, it became clear she was going to stick around for a while in season three, which happens to be the second best season of 6 Feet Under.
This show has found the perfect balance between darkness and humour
In season two, Nate finds out that his former on/off girlfriend, the eco-friendly, overly-whiney and concerned Lisa, is pregnant with his child.
In the third season, they move in to the guesthouse of the Fisher residence with their daughter Maya.
Nate’s mother Ruth (Frances Conroy) is besotted with Maya and tries to offer friendly suggestions to an over-sensitive Lisa, who seems to think she is the mother of all mother’s.
Although I can understand her frustrations, I can’t feel sorry for her.
Nate went back to Lisa because it was the right thing to do, not because he was in love with her.
While I do believe he did have moments where he felt genuine love towards her, I think it was more due to her being the mother of his child, rather than his woman.
Lisa seems to think she is the mother of all mother’s
The friction between Ruth and Lisa cause for a lot of tension in the Fisher household, as does Nate’s ex-girlfriend Brenda (Rachael Griffiths) when she re-enters the picture and makes her amends after a stint in rehab for her alcohol and drug addiction.
The arrival of Arthur (Rainn Wilson) alone makes this the best season of Six Feet Under.
David and Rico (Frederico Rodriguez) decide to hire an apprentice to help them out, much to Ruth’s delight.
Arthur comes across as a typical nerd character: big glasses, a very tidy and neat present and an obsessive way of organising his sock drawer.
Ruth who is rediscovering her sexuality much to the discomfort of her children, feels drawn to him.
Arthur has an obsessive way of organising his sock drawer
Her weird, sexual advances are somewhat unnerving for the shy, (probable) virgin and all their intimate relationship consists of in the end is some shameful shoulder bumping and Eskimo-kissing.
Claire (Lauren Ambrose) is finally growing out of her snotty teenage phase and has started exploring her art, herself and her relationships.
She starts dating Russell (Ben Forster), who’s initially modest and gentle, but ends up going off on a sexually confused ego trip.
I told you I wouldn’t be able to settle on one, so here’s the other and I think the reason is obvious: Six Feet Under has one of the best series finales in the history of TV shows and I know that even those who weren’t complete fanatics, felt incredibly touched by it.
Six Feet has always set out to challenge us and our feelings towards our own mortality and of those around us.
We are introduced to the various types of ways death can catch up with you and the strong and equally bizarre reactions people tend to have to a loved ones death.
Six Feet Under sets out to challenge us and our feelings towards our own mortality
In the final season however, it seems as though creator and producer Alan Ball is virtually testing us, wanting to assure himself that we are prepared for whatever life may throw our way.
Ruth’s new husband George (James Cromwell) comes back home after having undergone electric shock therapy, only to prepare for imminent doom in a bomb shelter.
Ruth’s impatience and George’s helplessness are absolutely heart breaking.
Nate and Brenda are back together and planning their big wedding day.
Brenda miscarries the day before the wedding, but soon falls pregnant again. Claire has developed a talent for photography and takes snapshots of the day.
Billy still harbour incestuous feelings for Brenda
When she captures Ruth cleaning a wine stain off of George’s shirt she slaps her and calls her disrespectful.
Claire is dating Billy (Jeremy Sisto) who has snapped out of his artistic depression but still harbours incestuous feelings for Brenda.
In terms of extreme emotions and intense scenes, season five is the very best season of Six Feet Under.
Trust me when I tell you it is wise to prepare at least two packets of tissues and a whole tub of chocolate ice cream per episode!!
Each episode of Six Feet is a work of art – there’s no doubt about that.
Suffice to say, I can’t describe every episode and what made each one unique, so I decided to list the best of each season.
I promise a great mixture of tear-jerkers, suspense and classic dialogue!
In the wake of Nathaniel Fisher Sr.(Richard Jenkins), the individuals of the family go through their own grieving process and find themselves longing to know more about their father.
Each to their own, they realises there were a lot things they never knew about their father.
Nate finds out about a secret room his father
Nate finds out about a secret room his father kept; he would use it to listen to records and get some quiet time away from the family.
He also traded marijuana for business services.
Anyone who has ever lost someone close to them will be able to relate to this episode and the character’s uncovering old memories and discovering new things about their father.
In this episode, Nate sits by his friend Aaron’s side as he takes his last breath.
Nate is upset and finally decides to come clean with his family.
Nate is upset and finally decides to come clean with his family
He has been struggling to hide his Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) from his family for a while, but finally opts to undergo surgery.
The end of the episode leaves it unclear whether he makes it out of surgery OK.
Lisa heads off to see her sister for a much deserved break, leaving Nate in charge of Maya.
Nate takes full advantage by blasting the type of music Lisa won’t allow and dancing through the living room with his daughter.
Nate takes full advantage by blasting the type of music Lisa won’t allow
Ruth interrupts Arthur during a sock-dilemma to ask whether they will ever take the next step in their relationship.
Vanessa and Rico go out dancing when it becomes clear she has a problem with a cocktail of uppers and downers.
Keith and his father get into a serious argument after attending a funeral. This is one of the best 6 Feet Under episodes, as it is packed with great moments and strange feelings.
Ruth and her friend Bettina (Kathy Bates) go off on a road trip to Mexico.
George prepares dinner for Rico and Nate; they seem to have a bonding moment over a discussion about processed food.
David is freaked out by the fact that Keith has had sex with women before and is haunted by nightmares.
Claire offended her lesbian friend with whom she has been experimenting, when she refuses to go down on her.
Claire refuses to go down on her lesbian friend
Nate and Brenda have found back to each other but Nate finds it hard to give himself to her whole-heartedly, mainly due to guilt towards Maya and Lisa.
At the end of the episode however, he shows up with Maya, manifesting his readiness to start afresh.
Claire has her first orgasm thanks to a technique called “Grinding the Corn”.
Ruth and Bettina decide to come back home after one of the horses they’ve been tracking on in Mexico collapses and is shot by its owner.
Choosing the very best episode of Six Feet Under posed a bit of a dilemma for me, seeing as it is evident that the most amazing one also marks the end of the show.
But as I mentioned before, there is just no episode that could beat this one.
Following Nate’s death – I apologise for the spoiler – the family is torn.
Nate’s ghost confronts individual members of the family, including Brenda, which causes her to make a difficult decision in regards to Maya’s upbringing.
Nate’s ghost confronts individual members of the family
Finally Brenda and Billy assess the foundation of their relationship.
David is trying to come to terms with his taking over the business and Claire finally finds back to herself after a period of heavy drinking and drugging and composing songs about stockings.
When a new opportunity arises for Claire, the family gets together to toast Nate’s memory and wish her farewell.
As she drives away, her future and that of her family is revealed…..Just the memory of this special episode, gives me goosebumps and fills me with the need to shed a few tears. R.I.P Fisher Family!
One important factor that really makes this show is the sarcastic, blunt and funny dialogue between the main characters, as well as the clients of their funeral home.
I have selected some of the best lines from Six Feet Under for you!
In the first season, we are introduced to Alfred Jones in the episode “The Room”. Alfred had just lost his wife Hattie; in a state of utter helplessness he refuses to leave her side and stays at the Fisher’s funeral home over night, to be at her side.
Nate tells Alfred: “You know, your wife will always be with you in your memories. When you love somebody that much, they never really –“
At this point Jones gets aggravated and interrupts Nate saying:
“You sell that shit to somebody who’s buyin’ it cause I ain’t. You don’t know nothin’ about love. Some pretty little thing catches your eye, and the next thing you know it’s been 56 years and you’ve shit all over yourself in the movie theatre, and she the only one to help you clean it up. That’s love.”
This quote really stuck with me and it was around this episode that I realised, that there was something truly special about the dialogue in this show. Here are some more of the best quotes from Six Feet Under:
Nate: This is my…Uh, my girlfriend, Brenda.
Brenda: I prefer the term “fuck puppet”.
Claire: You know, it’s polite for the first person downstairs to make the coffee even if that person has a penis!
Nate: Well, you know, it’s also polite for the first person who uses the bathroom to spend less than 45 minutes in there even if that person has a vulva.
Ruth: Oh goodness, everyone’s here.
David: With all their genitalia.
Ruth: You want me to complain? Alright then, Fuck this. Fuck you; fuck all of you and your snivelling self pity, and fuck all your lousy parents. Fuck my lousy parents while we’re at it. Fuck my selfish, bohemian sister and her fucking bliss. Fuck my legless grandmother. Fuck my dead husband, and my lousy children with their nasty little secrets. And fuck you Robby for dragging me to this terrible place and not letting me have a snickers bar. I’m going to get something to eat!
Brenda: Future is just a fucking concept that we use to avoid being alive today.
Claire: Nate, you know, this isn’t The Matrix. The rest of us who don’t have babies, we’re real.
Brenda: I can’t believe how much money I’ve spent fucking up my life.
Nate: I just feel like all I do, all day long, is just manage myself, try to fuckin’ connect with people. But it’s like, no matter how much energy you pour into getting to the station on time, or getting on the right train, there’s still no fuckin’ guarantee that anybody’s gonna be there for you to pick you up when you get there.”
Nate: Time flies when you’re having fun, huh?
Nathaniel Sr.: No, time flies when you’re pretending to have fun. Time flies when you’re pretending to love Brenda and that baby she wants so much. Time flies when you’re pretending to know what people mean when they say “love”. Face it buddy boy, there’s just two kinds of people in the world: there’s you, and there’s everybody else, and never the twain shall meet.
Billy: Yeah. It’s hard to get your shit together with someone watching all the time.
George: Hm, yeah, it is. But when no one is watching, then where are you? Where the fuck are you then?
Claire: I mean, I don’t understand how having your legs sheathed in this, like, smooth plastic Barbie leg, like, encased in a sausage casing would help you do your job better. I mean, doesn’t it seem sexist that it’s a regulation only for women?
Marianne: Men have to wear ties.
Claire: Right, but the don’t suffocate you…and it’s not on their penis.
These were some of the best 6 Feet Under quotes. Intrigued? I suggest you get cracking on the first season asap!!
It’s easier to name a character that I don’t like on Six Feet Under than to name my favourites.
As I mentioned before, Lisa was definitely my least favourite; I was relieved to see her go, I was getting so tired of her pained expressions.
Lisa was definitely my least favourite; I was relieved to see her go
Some of the best Six Feet Under characters were Nate, Brenda and Claire.
Although I really liked the rest of them too, especially Ruth’s strange and quirky ways, the characters mentioned above are the ones I could most relate to and who in my opinion, delivered the best performances.
During the first two seasons it may be difficult to understand who Claire really is and what she’s going through.
She often comes across as snotty and bitchy, and doesn’t seem to be looking for much of a connection with the rest of her family.
Every now and then however, she lets her guards fall and we get to see the vulnerable, sensitive and caring side of her.
When she meets her first boyfriend Gabe (Eric Balfour), we are introduced to an entirely new side of Claire.
She often comes across as snotty and bitchy
Things don’t go very well for the two and Claire soon finds back to her mistrusting self. She goes through a series of various relationships before ending up with Brenda’s brother Billy.
During this time, Claire really grows in to her own as an artist and as a woman.
Her physical appearance changes and by the last two seasons she is absolutely radiant and blossoming.
Billy and Claire really seem to feed off of one another’s inspiration.
The death of her older brother throws her for a loop and she struggles finding the sense in her life. But even during these dark days, she never looses her sense of dry, dark humour.
Nate had never intended to leave his life in Seattle behind, but was forced to come back and tend to the family business after the sudden death of his father.
Nate is very different to the rest of the Fisher clan, in that he believes in “better out, than in”.
Nate is uncomplicated but solid in his opinions. He doesn’t really feel at home with his family and finds it hard to immerse himself in running the family business: a business he never wanted to be a part of.
Nate is uncomplicated but solid in his opinions
His nature is kind, easy-going and open – character traits that cause for quite some conflict within the family.
The only time we ever see Nate flipping his noodle is as a direct result of Brenda’s freak outs, his midlife’s crisis and his disease.
I think I cried more over his death than I did over the final episode.
In the fifth season, there is a scene showing Nate as a youngster on the day Kurt Cobain died; he invites Claire to sit with him and they have a big brother –little sister moment. Absolutely heart breaking!!
Brenda is one of the strongest, most complicated and above all, most present characters on this show.
You will constantly dance around between loving and hating her, but if you’re anything like me, ultimately, you will love her.
Brenda grew up with her psychologist mother Margaret (Joanna Cassidy) and her psychiatrist father Bernard (Robert Foxworth) during the height of the sexual revolution. Her brother Billy is bipolar and confused about his feelings towards Brenda.
Her family is the complete opposite of the Fisher family
Her family is the complete opposite of the Fisher family, which doesn’t always make it easy for her to fit in.
The first time Nate brings her home to meet the family, Ruth walks in on them engaging in oral sex. Needless to say Ruth didn’t take to Brenda too kindly.
Brenda is extremely extrovert, articulate and shameless – she believes in harsh measures in order to confront inner demons.
When Nate struggles to find his “bedside manner” as a funeral home director, Brenda finds a bizarre strategy to tackle his problem.
Brenda is extremely extrovert, articulate and shameless
She takes Nate to another funeral home, on the bus that killed his father.
Once they arrive, she acts as though she was dying, pretending to be there to arrange her own funeral with her husband. Nate gets very angry and accuses her of being deranged.
Whether she is deranged or not is beside the point; the point is, she is one of the most colourful and erratic characters on this show!
Six Feet Under best moments revolves around an intoxicated Claire and an oblivious Ruth.
Claire has just befriended the precocious Parker (Marina Black) who talks her into eating magic mushrooms.
During her trip Claire starts thinking of her mother Ruth in an entirely different way, describing her as beautiful. Inspired, she starts making her a pair of multi-coloured trousers with bells and chimes on them.
Claire makes a pair of trousers for Ruth while tripping on mushrooms
The next day she wakes up in complete horror to find her mother is actually wearing them!
Another brilliant scene which really sets the tone of the strange Fisher family, focuses on an awkward family dinner.
In a previous episode, David hides a pill of X in an aspirin bottle. Trying to cure his headache, Nate takes it unknowingly.
They all gather around to enjoy one of the first family dinners complete with spouses: Ruth’s partner Nikolai (Ed O’Ross), Claire’s boyfriend Gabe and Brenda are all present, when it becomes clear Nate is feeling a liiiiiitttle too good.
The awkwardly high family dinner
After Nikolai says a long and over-exaggerated grace to start the dinner shenanigans, Nate tells him what a beautiful person he is.
Brenda is trying her best to stop Nate from constantly touching and caressing her, until finally looking into his eyes.
“You’re high,” she says. Nate denies it until she forces him to look up into the light, when he finally realises, “Oh my God, I am high!”
Seriously – one of the Six Feet Under best scenes!
I hope that this article has gotten you excited about the prospects of meeting the Fisher family.
I could spend another two days telling you about all my favourite episodes, the characters I love the most and the moments that made me laugh and cry.
I could spend another two days telling you about all my favourite episodes, the characters I love the most and the moments that made me laugh and cry
But I don’t want to give it all away!
I want you to race to your nearest shop and buy the whole box set, or get behind your computer and download the complete series, because I really cannot wait to hear what you think about it.
I have exhausted the people around me with my constant raving on about Six Feet Under and what an amazing show it is…I think I need new SFU buddies…
Will you be the one?
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