CULT FICTION: Six reasons why everyone should watch Six Feet Under 7 years ago

CULT FICTION: Six reasons why everyone should watch Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under is my favourite TV drama of the last 20 years.

While The Sopranos, The Wire, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The West Wing all make for exceptional television, the story of a family of funeral directors in Los Angeles got under my skin like no other show since Tony Soprano gave the small screen a well needed pistol whipping.


1) What's it about? 

The Fisher Family. The first episode features the death of funeral director Nathaniel Fisher (Richard Jenkins), the flawed patriarch whose passing coincides with the return of eldest son Nate (Peter Krause).

Nate's push-pull relationship with his brother David (Michael C. Hall) runs central to the show over five exceptional series, but there's a hell of a lot more at play here. Frances Conroy as the mother keeping everything together, Ruth, and Lauren Ambrose as daughter Claire complete the family Fisher, with supporting turns from Freddy Rodriguez, Rachel Griffiths, Mathew St. Patrick, James Cromwell and more.


2) It's almost like...

Your family squabbles, times a thousand.

The Fishers have an awful lot of issues to work out, not least the fact that Nate wanted nothing to do with them leading up to his return and David having remained a closeted homosexual for years.

When you add Griffiths' character Brenda - Nate's girlfriend and eventual wife - into the mix, the tension can become unbearable. With death as a backdrop, it's not the most cheerful of shows but there are plenty of touches of humour in Alan Ball's script.



3) It's worth your time because...

... of the writing. You absolutely never know where the script is going, what any character is capable of at any given time; this is a show completely free of caricature.

There are no archetypes, nobody you can imagine existing in any other show, and the performances are note perfect across the board.


The tension may kill you but it's ok, we know a good undertaker.

4) Did you know...? 

Every single episode opens with a death.

From the woman so bored by her husband that she kills him with a frying pan, to the middle-aged divorcée decapitated by a traffic light, to a woman crushed by ice falling from an airplane, there are some artful death scenes here. Many of them are the definition of tragicomedy.


5) One episode and you're hooked...

'That's My Dog.' You'll hopefully be hooked long before this, as it's the fifth episode of the fourth series, but it's a properly devastating hour of television.


Like 'Pine Barrens' from The Sopranos, or 'Ozymandias' in Breaking Bad, this was a step above anything that had come before it. It breaks from formula and focuses on one character, David, as he gets taken hostage by a crack-addicted drifter called Jake.

6) If the show was a person then...

... it would be Nathaniel Fisher. Jenkins' character is a ghostly presence throughout. He is everything that you see mirrored in the show. Humorous, thoughtful, morose, insightful, angry and mischievous.


Six Feet Under is my favourite television drama of the last 20 years.