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Going Six Feet Under


Published May 7, 2007 at 7:31 p.m.

One would think an individual who spends an inordinate amount of time in front of his TV set would have a cable or dish package offering gazillions of stations. But I - who is (am? editor?) that individual, BTW - purchases only the minimum cable deal. The way I figure it, if I had 200+ channels to choose from, I would eventually end up on life support, staring blank-eyed in front of the tube, an IV in each arm. With a mere 20 stations, at least I get up to work and eat every so often.

All of this is by way of explanation as to why I don't get HBO or Showtime, home of some of the most innovative TV series of all time. But this is why God made video tapes, and later came up with DVDs, even better, because DVDs begat Netflix as well as the Blockbuster version of Netflix, which is what I get. And over the past six months, I have watched - DVD by DVD by DVD - the entire five-year run of HBO's "Six Feet Under."

This posting is, in effect, my paean to "Six Feet Under," the saga of the Fisher family, and, for my money, the most entertaining and insightful TV drama of all time. The Fishers own a funeral home, the dramatic springboard for brilliant explorations of - you got it - life and death.

To take nothing away from the amazing ensemble of actors who graced this show, the hallmark of this series is, for me, the sterling writing, never hackneyed, always incisive and unexpected.

To highlight just one element of the show that has stayed with me, one of the main characters is gay, and a number of story-lines incorporate this aspect of his life. Although I have known and been friends with gay people, I feel as if the show taught me something real about the challenges of being gay in contemporary America, something beyond the cliches and what I thought I knew. And, for me, that's what great drama accomplishes: one learns something about being human.

One final note:  the series-ending episode is considered by many to be the finest final episode of any series, ever. It is simply an amazing piece of TV drama, not to be missed.

Postscript on the Gilmore Girls:  Yes, it's true. "The Gilmore Girls" is ending, just two more episodes to go. Good-bye Lorelai; good-bye Rory; good-bye Starr's Hollow. Excuse me whilst I sob.