Six Feet Under ran on HBO from 2001-2005. It was nominated for several Emmys and is always in the conversation when discussing “the greatest television shows”.
What makes Six Feet Under stick out in ways that other shows haven’t before it, or failed to do after it, can not be over looked. Most viewers who have experienced the whole show confess to some deep personal connection. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read “Six Feet Under changed my life!” And now I’ve tried to put into words why and how Six Feet Under is able to touch so many viewers on a deep level.
Minor spoilers ahead.
3. It Was About Family And Relationships… It Was About Us
While The Sopranos was about family and it was also about “the family”, Six Feet Under was scaled down on concept. Of course, not all of us grew up in a funeral home, but the struggle and problems the Fishers lived through were so true to life, and thus true for us when experiencing it.
Whether you’re a Nate, a Peter Pan type who doesn’t want to grow up and tries so hard to be a good guy, a David, struggling with self-acceptance, God, and coming out (you don’t have to be gay to be a David), a Claire, who is also trying to figure herself out as the youngest (by over a decade) and an artist, or a Ruth, who spent so much of her life serving others and is finally breaking free to enjoy herself, or you might be all four combined. Or you could be one of the Chenowiths, Keith, or Federico. There is someone who anyone can relate to, root for, and ultimately cry for.
Most couples think they are Ross and Rachel (Friends) or Marshall and Lilly (How I Met Your Mother), but we aren’t. Most likely we’re more like Nate and Brenda or Keith and David. Six Feet Under showed us the reality of family, relationships, and all the real baggage that comes with it. More importantly, it showed us that it’s okay. It never weaved together a folly of a Hollywood relationship to make us question or pick apart our own, if anything, it made us feel a little less dysfunctional.
It challenged us to confront the reality of ourselves and those we love, that life isn’t a picnic and there is so little time, we may as well try to enjoy ourselves.
“Well, you know, love isn’t something you feel, it’s something you do. If the person you’re with doesn’t want it, you know, do yourself a favor and save it for someone who does.” -Nate Fisher
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