The big thing I noticed was that Six Feet Under started recycling things from season 1. So season 5 has this feeling of coming full circle whether you realize it or not. Nate and Brenda fall apart, except this time it’s Nate who can’t stay faithful. Rico and Vanessa are back together (kind of). Ruth goes all the way back to dating Hiram. They’re even camping again. Billy goes off his meds. Claire is back to not knowing what she wants to do with her life. Nate’s AVM returns, obviously. And the show begins with the fallout from a Nate Fisher dying, then it ends with the fallout of Nate Fisher Jr. dying. Both died doing what they love—the dad doing funeral stuff, Jr having sex.
It’s not a perfect, symmetrical 1:1. There are clear differences between the seasons. But there are enough callbacks that you know this is purposeful. It’s similar to The Wire, which is my favorite show of all time. In The Wire, you have the first generation of characters slowly replaced by the next generation. You don’t realize it until the very end that there are archetypes that exist and each generation someone new comes along to fill that role. It’s beautiful but sad and very poignant.
I don’t think Six Feet Under‘s making the same point about archetypes. But there is something to how we relate to death. And it being something far away from you that you associate with older people until it becomes something that’s right on your doorstep. And how each of us closes in on our death each and every day whether we pay attention to that fact or not.
Just look at Six Feet Under‘s title sequence. A tree progresses through all the stages of life then loses its leaves. That’s a pretty clear thesis statement.
The weird thing is to me how much they tried to make us hate Nate. He went from a mostly likable person to a complete douche. They did the same with Lisa. I wonder if that’s the point? To complicate our feelings about the person? Like Lisa you could barely stand her (at least I could barely stand her). Then she’s dead and you have to deal with how you felt about her and her legacy. Same thing now with Nate. Instead of completely mourning him, we have to deal with how fractured our view of him has become.
Superficially, I guess you could pin it on the AVM. That his change in behavior is tied to what’s going on in his brain. And it was a sign that something bad was going to happen. Now that I say that, I really do like that idea. Maybe that’s what the creators intended? But they never have a character acknowledge that as a possibility (as far as I remember). So there’s nothing concrete to point to.
I say that, but damn. They made EVERYONE unlikable. Everyone. Claire, Ruth, Brenda, Billy, David, Vanessa, Rico. Keith had some downturns but Keith’s still Keith and you want to love him, ya know? But still, so many of the characters became assholes. They had moments where you recall why you like them. But it was hard for me to care by the end. If good things happened or not, I was just ready for the show to be over. That’s never good.
Was Six Feet Under focusing on the terrible realities of life? Was it setting us up for some grand catharsis? Honestly, as I write this, I’m halfway through the second-to-last episode.
I like that we’re exploring the fallout from Nate’s death. I just don’t how the characters are responding? It feels a bit indulgent and over the top.
I say that as someone who lost my dad when I was 20 and my mom when I was 25. I’ve felt loss. I’ve had to deal with shit. The funeral. Being there for my mom as she went through years of cancer. Filling the role of primary caretaker. Then handling the estate by myself. It was immense and stupid. But I didn’t wallow the way all the Fishers are wallowing. Maybe it’s unfair of me to judge them. Everyone mourns differently. But it gets exhausting seeing everyone else lose their shit when you had to keep it together in reality and not in fiction.
Okay, Nate’s static speech was great. And I’d have talked about that if it wasn’t for Brenda and Billy about to incest. Omg, they’re incesting. WTF. WHY DID THEY SAVE THIS FOR SO LONG OH IT WAS A DREAM
Thank goodness. I guess the creators just wanted to acknowledge that tension and give the fans a little bit of a shock.
I did really like Claire going out onto a nature preserve, near a corpse, then freaking out because of a predator. And now….Claire’s dead?
If the show ends with everyone dying that will certainly amuse me and earn my praise.
I can’t believe what’s happening with David. His downward spiral is so frustrating. Taking the kids out of school. Being condescending and defensive. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable.
Claire’s car’s death is probably the biggest loss on the show. And really symbolizes how this is the end of an era and things change. Nothing lasts.
Okay, David’s officially lost the plot. I hate to see my favorite/second favorite character on the show reduced to this. And not getting help? Go to rehab. It feels a little unnecessary to me to take his PTSD this far to where he’s a looney toon. Strikes me as melodramatic that fills time rather than pays off on the overall character arc.
I guess David was always really concerned with what others thought of him and being judged. So him reaching a point where he sees danger and threat everywhere is relevant in some ways. But is that a character hurdle that gets at the core of who he is? Does it need to be? I guess I don’t think it’s bad. Just that they should have gone for something else.
I’m a bit afraid of the finale. I know everyone says it’s great. But we’ve descended into such petty melodrama between the characters that I don’t know how that’s going to resolve in a way that’s meaningful.
Brenda vs Ruth
David vs Himself
Claire vs Her Future
Rico vs Fishers
I like the idea of what Rico’s doing, just think it could have happened WAY earlier and replaced the wheel-spinning that was Vanessa’s depression, Rico’s cheating, and their slow march to getting back together.
And Claire vs Her Future would be more poignant to me if that hadn’t been her season 1 arc. If she had always known she wanted to be an artist and now was finally having a crisis, that’s fine for me. But since it’s echoing that first season, I’m bored by it. It’s also just a little cliche.
Anyway, here’s hoping the finale is better.