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June 15, 2011 8:34 AM   Subscribe

The A.V. Club's T.V. Club has begun to reexamine Six Feet Under. The show, widely considered one of the finest television series of all time, turned 10 years old a little over a week ago. So far, the first three episodes have been reviewed.
posted by Houyhnhnm (114 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I made it until the end of season 4 (I think) of Six Feet Under before I decided that a) I hated every character on the show and b) watching it made me feel more miserable than any other feeling.

That said, I love the T.V. Club, and most of the commentary is pretty good, so I'll probably read along.
posted by elder18 at 8:42 AM on June 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Six Feet Under had three problems they never really addressed.

1. Tone. Tragicomic is one thing but the first season veers wildly from broad farce to melodrama really fast. It evened out a bit but could still just jerk you around a lot.

2. Bluntness. For a show all about the acting (is Rachel's ring throwing break down the best thing ever? yes it is) the plotlines could be very ...direct. I refer you to, of course, LETS ALL SMOKE CRACK and SECRET SCHIZO

3. Everyone is an awful person. Seriously. I was trying to figure out why the first season bothered me so much when I watched it until I figured out there isn't a single sympathetic character presented. (Claire gets off cause of her age, and David do to his upbringing, to an extent). This isn't exactly a problem, a show full of reasonable people being reasonable wouldn't make good drama, and yes having all your leads being reprehensible human beings is perfectly fine (I dare say it helped kick off his trend in TV) but by the end every single storyline could have solved if any character would just stop being an asshole for 30 seconds.
posted by The Whelk at 8:44 AM on June 15, 2011 [11 favorites]



I made it until the end of season 4 (I think) of Six Feet Under before I decided that a) I hated every character on the show and b) watching it made me feel more miserable than any other feeling.


I had the exact same experience. Except that I'd also add that it was starting to feel repetitive, dull, and contrived. It really did seem to drag on and lose direction, maybe they should have stopped a whole lot earlier.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:44 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah for me it's not "do I like this character?" it's "do i care about this character?" and by the end it was just "I hope they all die in a fire."
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like say, Rachel's mom. I'd watch her make (drink?) breakfast. Horrible person, vastly entertaining.
posted by The Whelk at 8:46 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good lord, 10 years.

Yes, one of the greatest shows of all time. And the thing about the characters is that they were honest to the products of a messed-up family, as opposes to the 'wacky' version you usually see on TV.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:47 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Great, I think I'll re-watch it too, seeing as we're in the doldrums before Breaking Bad and True Blood start up again.
Aside: Am I imaging things, or did Alan Ball reuse the Fisher's kitchen as the Stackhouse kitchen in TB? The whole exterior of the Stackhouse house too - was that not also the 'afterlife' house in IIRC the final episode of 6FU?
posted by Flashman at 8:47 AM on June 15, 2011


(although i wonder how much of the audience loathing was built into the show cause I remember watching it and going YES NATE FUCK UP YOUR LIFE S'MORE. YOU TOTALLY DESERVE EVERY HORRIBLE THING THAT'S COMING TO YOU YOUR TEARS ARE LIKE WINE.)
posted by The Whelk at 8:48 AM on June 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


I just came here to post what elder18 (and everyone else) said. Most TV shows I'm indifferent to, but few I've actively loathed as much as Six Feet Under. I just wanted to punch every single character in the face repeatedly.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:49 AM on June 15, 2011


I'm grateful to the show for teaching me to, when in the early stages of dating someone, find out who on Six Feet Under she identifies with. If the answer is Brenda, I have learned to RUN FAR AWAY
posted by pts at 8:53 AM on June 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Uh oh, I identify with Brenda.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 8:54 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was some interesting discussion on how Brenda was being made out as evil cause she slept around like a stereotypical gay male which I thought was bogus cause the show did go to extreme lengths to point out, it's not the promiscuity, it's the fact that she's manipulative and never got over being the Smartest Girl In The Room and is self-medicating non-stop.

Plus, she takes AskMe's advice and gets into CBT at the end.

Nate was pretty much designed to be the worst possible partner for her (and vice versa) and thus, drama.
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 AM on June 15, 2011


For me the value in the show wasn't the main characters themselves (who, agreed, could be loathsome, terrible people) - it was the minor characters who they actively and passively ruined with their horribleness that got my attention. Woe betide anyone whose path crossed the Fishers.
posted by contessa at 8:59 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


For awhile, whenever 'Breathe Me' came on the radio, I'd turn to my wife and say, "And then Keith gets shot."

She'd then punch me in the arm and call my a jerk.

And then I'd go "NAAARRRMM!" and fall over.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:59 AM on June 15, 2011 [24 favorites]


It is totally worth sitting through seasons 3 and 4 to get to season 5.

Seriously, the last season was incredible... and ended in the best series finale I've ever seen. Also, I don't get why folks think everyone is a horrible person... I liked parts of every character even though they could be assholes sometimes. Much like real people.
posted by utsutsu at 9:00 AM on June 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


The Fishers were basically monsters despite their sunny perfect family look and I figure that HAD to be intended.
posted by The Whelk at 9:01 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jeremy Sisto, who played Billy Chenowith, had what must have been one of the funnest roles for an actor ever. He got to play suave artist hero and fucked up incestuous psychopath, often during the same episode. Every time Billy was on screen I thought to myself that Jeremy must just love coming to work.

Six Feet was one of few show runs I've loved that managed to have a satisfying final episode. The death montage playing out into the future was done just right. Literal tears and laughter mixed together.
posted by Babblesort at 9:03 AM on June 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I loved that show but for some reason, unlike The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Arrested Development and a bunch of other shows I've watched two or three times, I've been unable to bring myself to re-watch the series. Maybe because of the way it ended. It was so... final.
posted by bondcliff at 9:08 AM on June 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Whelk: "3. Everyone is an awful person. Seriously. I was trying to figure out why the first season bothered me so much when I watched it until I figured out there isn't a single sympathetic character presented. (Claire gets off cause of her age, and David do to his upbringing, to an extent). This isn't exactly a problem, a show full of reasonable people being reasonable wouldn't make good drama, and yes having all your leads being reprehensible human beings is perfectly fine (I dare say it helped kick off his trend in TV) but by the end every single storyline could have solved if any character would just stop being an asshole for 30 seconds."

In a nutshell, this is why I can't watch The Office. For whatever reason, Seinfeld was fine despite having generally the same premise (the final episode notwithstanding). Sure, the characters were flawed and generally clueless, but at least they were endearing, and subtly jabbed us for the ways that we're flawed ourselves.

But, christ...I don't like these new characters that are realistic and consistent assholes. Michael Scott, and Larry David's character on Curb Your Enthusiasm hit a bit too close to home, and remind me of actual assholes in real life. If I wanted to listen to an asshole boss harass his employees, I'd have stayed at my old job.

Similarly, I guess that a key part of Dexter's brilliance is its ability to completely subvert this trope. Dexter is clearly a horrible, reprehensible person, and yet he's clearly the protagonist with distinctly human characteristics. You root for him. You want him to succeed. I'm not in love with the show like some are, but Michael Hall absolutely nails the uncanny role of the affable serial killer. You hate what he is, but you don't hate him.

So, if Six Feet Under is to blame for this trend, I've got an angry letter to draft to some HBO executives...

The "comedy of discomfort" thing has been taken way too far -- even Arrested Development (in all of its brilliance) annoyed me when it did it in anything larger than small doses. The AV Club seem to have noticed this too, calling out a scene in a recent episode of Modern Family that featured several of the main characters at a bar having a good time, and riffing off of each other; noting just how incredibly rare this sort of scene is in a currently-airing comedy.
posted by schmod at 9:11 AM on June 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Six Feet Under clearly belongs in the same club as the other great serialized dramas that emerged post Sopranos. It is decidedly more annoying than those other shows. More infuriating. The things that didn't work in Six Feet Under are, for whatever reason, less forgivable than things like the acting troupe in the 3rd season of Deadwood or the non-worthwhile asides in the Sopranos because the things that didn't work were closer to the core of the show rather than distractions tacked on to the edges. It still succeeds at things that lesser shows don't which is really getting you invested in characters who are interesting and not just lists of adjectives. I cared about all of them and I wanted them to be happy. I was sad when they died. I didn't always like them but I don't think they were terrible people in the least just limited people trying to deal with those limits and not always being as kind or thoughtful or whatever as they maybe should have been. I think that I'm mostly able to get away with being kinder because of easier circumstances. Mostly.
posted by I Foody at 9:12 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brenda's ending was the best, FYI.

No one ever calls out the David and Keith relationship for being very ...strange.

Except me, and often.

Seriously, every episode centered around David was to remind us, the audience, that the universe was specifically built to fuck David around and he can only ever be happy with Kieth who will protect from the slings and arrows of outrageous writers.

The best summation of Six Feet Under is that the most stable, healthy relationship on the show was between a paranoid agoraphobe and a patronizing control freak.
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on June 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


We each have our own tastes, and far be it for me to argue about what I like and what you like, but my family has seen the show for each showing, each season, and we are now watching the re-runs...

What I like that has not been noted: each character has his or her own life, problems, issues, etc. all for me interesting. Then we also see the family as they relate to one another. Then we get some insights into the death business etc.

Now take the Big Hit: Sopranos. Nice. interesting. But the story is mostly about the gang and from time to time, Tony's family...
Six Feet is one of the few shows I have seen that manages to interest as Family and as Individual within family.

As for like or not this or that one, I care about many of the characters, and that might not be the same thing as "liking" them.
posted by Postroad at 9:15 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, so much hate for the Fishers. I don't get it. To me, they were the first TV family (aside from Married With Children) I could relate to, that reminded me of my own family. They're pretty much all deeply flawed people, but they're also all funny, empathetic, and realistic. Real people do annoying things and get in the way of their own happiness, and the genius of SFU was showing that, and how people can grow (or not) as they learn (or don't) from their mistakes.

I'd much rather watch or hang out with the Fishers over any squeaky clean TV family, that's for sure.

...

On the other hand, I couldn't fucking stand Eastbound and Down. I loved both Foot Fist Way and Observe and Report, so I was looking forward to it, but Kenny Powers was just far, far too much of an irredeemable jerk and everyone around him was bizarre tolerant of it. Couldn't handle it.

...

The best summation of Six Feet Under is that the most stable, healthy relationship on the show was between a paranoid agoraphobe and a patronizing control freak.

I loved their relationship, and I thought their own hard-fought happiness was sort of key to the show's spirit. Keith and David will never stop being neurotic, but they work with one another and their neuroses interlock in such a way that they're both able to function.

I also didn't see Keith as being all that patronizing or as all that much of a control freak, at least not in any real negative way. It seemed pretty clear that that's what David wanted, to cede control to Keith.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:18 AM on June 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


To me, they were the first TV family (aside from Married With Children) I could relate to, that reminded me of my own family.

Ruth screaming at her children, "I want you to be intimate with me!" is my Mom in a nutshell.
posted by Trurl at 9:21 AM on June 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I get it's what David wanted and yes it's totally the only working relationship on the show, but as I mentioned in a previous thread about SFU, Keith talks to David like he's ten. All. The. Time. And I get why, it's underlining how sheltered David is/was and how submissive he is and there is nothing wrong with that buuuut-

I find that kind of relationship really uncomfortable. Which is, one could say, the point of drama, to make you empathize with people and situations you wouldn't normally. I never said it was badly written or unrealistic, I was saying that in all my reading and discussing of SFU rarely does anyone point out that David And Keith dynamic is an example of a functioning dom/sub kinda thing.

Or in other ways, could David be anymore his mom?
posted by The Whelk at 9:23 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Keith and David's relationship kind of reminded me of Lee (Maggie Gyllenhall) and Mr. Grey (James Spader) from Secretary. You'd have a hard time describing their relationship as healthy but they fit together like two puzzle pieces that couldn't possibly go with any other piece.
posted by Babblesort at 9:25 AM on June 15, 2011


David *never* gets to have any happy experiences in the outside world. It's all bad all the time. Even that threeway was within the confines of the house.

Which is a legit decision to make, but with my three points, it just became a one note blunt battering ram. you knew exactly how a David storyline was going to go cause if it included "David tries a new thing" it will end with 'David is horribly fucked over the universe."

I mean they gave him PTSD for the crime of being happy for a day.
posted by The Whelk at 9:26 AM on June 15, 2011


(god now I'm thinking of them as the Gays Of Gor and I have to stop thinking that now)
posted by The Whelk at 9:27 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think my breaking point was when


*SPOLIER ALERT*



David gets kidnapped, nearly set on fire, etc. It was just so insane and out there and clearly designed to just shit on a character that had already been shit on in just about any way possible.

I finished the rest of that season and then I just couldn't do it any more. Too unpleasant and just for the sake of being unpleasant, not for the sake of being "real."
posted by elder18 at 9:30 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The show, widely considered one of the finest television series of all time

Don't do this. If you absolutely need to editorialize in your FPP, then throw in a few citations and make it, "considered by X and Y to be one of the finest television series of all time." But don't do this. Very often your favorite band really does suck, and nevertheless it's perfectly possible to have an engaging conversation about their progression just so long as you don't preface the conversation with "BEST EVAR!!"

Six Feet Under wasn't bad. It wasn't a ratings coup, not even as widely watched as The Sopranos during its run, and it certainly wasn't any kind of cultural breakthrough like The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It didn't spawn any spinoffs, and it didn't contribute any characters or phrases to the 'societal conversation.' And objective external criteria aside, it had plenty of flaws: its tone was jerky and inconsistent, its plots repetitive, its characters unsympathetic, and harped on themes that were important to the show's creator but did not serve the show itself.

I think the FPP could have done without the commendation in the first place, but if you absolutely needed it, you'd have been fine with, "Hey, you know what show was pretty good? Six Feet Under."
posted by red clover at 9:31 AM on June 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Oh, I found these a week or so ago while I was checking out their X-Files recaps.

Like say, Rachel's mom. I'd watch her make (drink?) breakfast. Horrible person, vastly entertaining.

Oh God yes! I found Brenda an incredibly unsympathetic character ("I'm too smart to have to act decently!"), and the only time I ever felt for her was when she was in scenes with her mother. That woman was a complete narcisisstic monster and it was no wonder Brenda was such a disaster.

Otherwise, not getting the Fisher hate entirely. The family seemed relatively normal to me. Especially when you look at what they went through in just five years: three deaths (one a murder), two failed marriages, one abduction, constant threat of losing their business.
posted by orange swan at 9:31 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


While I generally liked SFU and watched it from beginning to end, if the term "Jump the Shark" hadn't already been coined, I'm sure a similar term could be made out of the episode where (SPOILER for those who haven't watched the series yet) David is kidnapped, forced to smoke crack, beaten, covered in gasoline, tied up and left for dead by a vagrant. Because I can think of few other shows where there was such an obvious and distinct turning point where an otherwise terrific show took a major turn for the worse that it never fully recovered from.

Not only was this episode completely over-the-top and ridiculous in its gratuitousness ("Mommy Dearest"-level), but as a viewer you couldn't just put it in the back of your head as a one-off bad episode since it kept being referred back to as a major dramatic point that other plots were spun off from for the remainder of the series.
posted by The Gooch at 9:32 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"and by the end it was just "I hope they all die in a fire."

Spoiler:





Well, they did all die in the end.
posted by Mcable at 9:32 AM on June 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I loved their relationship, and I thought their own hard-fought happiness was sort of key to the show's spirit. Keith and David will never stop being neurotic, but they work with one another and their neuroses interlock in such a way that they're both able to function.

I also didn't see Keith as being all that patronizing or as all that much of a control freak, at least not in any real negative way. It seemed pretty clear that that's what David wanted, to cede control to Keith.


I felt pretty much the same way--I felt like by the end of the show, their characters had really grown a lot, and had the potential for more growth.

I liked the show in part because everybody seemed so real. And while they did often make mistakes, I think there were times when everybody (yes, even Brenda) did something right (even if it was a very small something). To me they don't feel *unrelentingly* horrible.

What I think makes this show so good, from a more meta-perspective, is exactly this point that we can all have very divergent readings of the show and characters. So while I don't get the same reading of the show as The Whelk does (probably because my own background and experiences are different) I can totally see how his reading works. And now, having been exposed to that reading, I might look at the show differently the next time I watch it (cause I totally own the box set with the fake grass on top).

But yes, you're right that David is so totally like his mother. But I know people IRL like that too.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:33 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


David really is his mom, especially since his being closeted for so long straitjacketed him in a way somewhat analogous to how his mother had been straitjacketed all of her life.

Their relationship is a little dom/sub in a sense, but I wouldn't say it goes even as far as Lee/Grey.

David getting punished by the world is an interesting inversion of the more typical TV show trope where the main character exists in a world where s/he's a total bad-ass who can do anything and who always saves the day. Here's a sad sack, but he's also a real person who has the bravery to make it through the day. He survives with the support of his partner. David's an extreme example, a ball of panic who needs constant comfort to function, but most of us are more like him than we'd like to admit.

David gets kidnapped, nearly set on fire, etc. It was just so insane and out there and clearly designed to just shit on a character that had already been shit on in just about any way possible.

I know people who've been through similar stuff. It's not like their lives up to that point were heavily foreshadowed preludes to being attacked. I've been through plenty of weird stuff that wasn't my fault, either. I loved how out of nowhere that episode was, and how the episode seemed absolutely unending at the time.

That said, the bit with the murder in Season 4 made me roll my eyes, but I'm sure that real life murders are equally inexplicable to the family's victims as well.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:34 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm way way more excited about the new AV Club rewatches of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Cowboy Bebop. And there's also the Buffy/Angel recaps, but those have been running for a while.
posted by kmz at 9:36 AM on June 15, 2011


With the whole ...kidnapping thing it was just highlighted how any David/Keith storyline was going to playout exactly the same way every time and if write themselves into a situation where that is threatened they have to invent a completely absurd plot device to get them back to where they're supposed to be.


On the other hand, while giving uptight characters random drugs is a hoary device, I like Ruth hugging a tree.
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 AM on June 15, 2011


MAJOR SPOILERS AHOY

One of the things that really bothered me about the show was that it repeated the formula of these total reversals of relationships between characters which seem solely motivated by audience manipulation. That is, I get that people are complex, and that sometimes we get along and sometimes we fight, and sometimes our feelings for people change over time. But the way SFU handled these issues (which I think is what they would argue they were doing) is by having like complete, super heavy-handed shifts in character. Like George being a super sweetheart when they met, and then turning into a complete asshole for a few episodes. Remember that? Remember when he being super arrogant and rude with Ruth and her friends for 2 or 3 episodes, and every scene with him was reinforcing this shift? And then he abruptly went back to being nice, right before his breakdown.

And that's my other big, big beef with the way they handled this stuff was that these shifts almost always were simply done to amplify whatever was coming (rather than feeling to be legit character development or arc-related). That is, it felt to me very much like George reverted to being nice so that we would feel worse with his mental collapse. The same thing happened with Lisa. Nate and Lisa were getting along miserably, right until like an episode before she disappeared, at which point she 180'ed from being abrasive and difficult to super sweet, and it really felt that this was so her vanishing would feel worse. This happened with Nate and Brenda at least once: in the final season, they are (again) at each other's throats (and seriously, god that felt old to me by the end) for episode after episode, right until Brenda realizes she has to meet Nate halfway and she goes to meet him at the Quaker church service, which is the exact instant he cheats on her. Characters felt like they were relentlessly unlikeable right until they wanted you to feel sympathy for them.

(Another good example of weird character shifting is Claire's like three-episode diversion into desperate coke-addled art scenester. That felt totally out of line with the Claire I had been getting to know. And then when Billy went crazy again, that all disappeared because that Claire wasn't sympathetic enough, and it was clear that we were now supposed to feel poor-Claire-dealing-with-Billy feelings.)

And I felt the "That's my Dog" episode (where David gets carjacked, robbed, forced to smoke crack, and then doused in gasoline) was not only really kind of awful television, but is also a uniquely exaggerated but still representative instance of how the show treated its characters and audience. It wouldn't be enough to have him mugged, right? He has to be mugged, and then all the rest, and then be dealing with the traumatic effects of it for the rest of the series (and the consequences of those effects like him biting off that guy's earring, and the consequences of that, like Keith being forced to suck that guy's dick, etc.), and we're forced to watch it all like putting our empathic centres on the table to be hammered on.

I was surprised when Nate woke up from his coma near the end because I thought they would drag that out to the finale. Oh, but then he dies. Right, having him wake up makes sense so they can fit in one more manipulative oscillation from bad to good to bad.

And then the shit with like Brenda having to deal with hallucinatory Nate appearing and taunting her that there was something wrong with their baby, over and over. It just felt so fucking cruel.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:38 AM on June 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


And for Ruth, oh the waves of Obligation and Passive Aggression coming off her. But after the wonderful, amazing "fuck my legless grandmother" and "why do i have such horrible children" speeches, there was really no place left for her to go without severly upsetting the show's premise. (Like say, selling the house and business and moving to Boca Ratan or something)
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on June 15, 2011


I adored Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs...I loved each and every one of them and could relate to them, and though they did not remind me specifically of my family, there were some of the dwarfs that had qualities of my mother, father, sister, and 2 brothers....It was upbeat too.
posted by Postroad at 9:40 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


And then the shit with like Brenda having to deal with hallucinatory Nate appearing and taunting her that there was something wrong with their baby, over and over. It just felt so fucking cruel.

I agree with the predictable story structure, but I also don't think the inside of Brenda's head is a particularly warm or loving place.
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 AM on June 15, 2011


It had some great episodes, and some interesting arcs, but I think it floundered too much to be considered one of the finest shows ever.

It did have one of the best final episodes ever, though.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:43 AM on June 15, 2011


Georges exist in real life, believe you me. Also, his later breakdown explained both his strange outbursts of crabby egotism and his numerous failed marriages. He is a nice guy and very lovable, but he also suffers from a chemical imbalance that causes him to behave inappropriately. He's also a know-it-all geologist. He's in denial about this problem, so he never really deals with it, so he just sort of lopes along in life, swinging from high to low, from marriage to divorce, until Ruth makes sure that he gets his necessary treatment and then gets him set up for another life.

I thought it was critical to the show's spirit and success, that plot line, because it showed how Ruth's overbearingness and controlling tendencies could actually produce some good, even though there was also collateral nuttiness and selfishness on her part. Once again, as with David and Keith, neurotics can save the day when the situation arises where their peculiarities are suited for the task, and sometimes people can change, even if they have to be forced a bit to make that change.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:45 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ruth screaming "YOU TRICKED ME" was one of the saddest moments on TV.
posted by The Whelk at 9:46 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


neuromodulator, what I got from those shifts was that the characters were aware of what was happening; George knew he was losing his shit, again. And Lisa was doing some stuff in the background and overcompensating for it. They were both trying to make a safe place to land when the shit inevitably hit the fan. That felt real to me so I think it must have been successful in some regard.
posted by dobie at 9:47 AM on June 15, 2011


Seriously, I thought it was fascinating to see Nate slowly turn into a total asshole as he gets back with his family. The show wasn't without flaws, but to me the family dynamic was the whole point, and that no matter what a character tried to do, they were ultimately forced into a role by the family dynamic. And a Spoiler again: The last season worked for me because killing off Nate broke the dynamic and allowed everyone to explore different directions for themselves. And yes, best final episode ever, maybe a tie with Newhart.
posted by Mcable at 9:50 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I get what you're saying, dobie, but the reason it didn't work for me the way it worked for you is that I felt it needed to present characters as varied and nuanced within an episode. And it never seemed to do this. It always felt like "Lisa is going to be either ultra-sweet or unbearable for this entire episode". And that's how it ended up feeling more manipulative than just like interesting character depth to me.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:50 AM on June 15, 2011


Everyone is an awful person.

They're all pretty fucked up, that's what I like about them.
posted by Artw at 9:54 AM on June 15, 2011


Especially when you look at what they went through in just five years: three deaths (one a murder), two failed marriages, one abduction, constant threat of losing their business.

This summarizes why I soured on the show - sometime during Season 4, I think.

The constant rollout of Heavy new plot developments just began to feel very phony in a Party of Five sort of way.
posted by Trurl at 9:54 AM on June 15, 2011


I gave up on 6FU when it stopped being funny ever and just was an endless parade of narcissistic misery.

Likewise, I stopped caring about Sopranos when they stopped being funny ever and just turned into an endless melodrama.

Luckily, the Wire never did that ā€” it was always bleak, but well-tempered.
posted by klangklangston at 9:54 AM on June 15, 2011


Postroad wins in a landslide!
posted by sfts2 at 9:55 AM on June 15, 2011


My wife and I (barely) made it through the series, and though there were enjoyable episodes and moments within episodes, I never ever warmed up to the character of Ruth Fisher. If anyone tells me that she reminded them of a real person, I will scream "BULLSHIT!". I felt that almost every scene with her was difficult to watch without rolling my eyes, and poorly acted, despite the Emmy award!
posted by newfers at 10:05 AM on June 15, 2011


My favorite show. Just want to shake people who don't like it and INSIST that they GET IT why don't they UNDERSTAND. Not healthy, staying away. Thanks for the post, haven't seen the AV club stuff!
posted by Kwine at 10:13 AM on June 15, 2011


Every day, "Strawberry Letter 23" comes on the Muzak at work, and every day it makes me think of Nate & David's dream. That scene destroyed me (like most of the final season) and that was the perfect song for it. I think there are quite a few songs from that era that were meant to sound astral and romantic that now sound sort of unnatural and melancholic if not unnerving. Whatever that quality is, it made that song a perfect choice. It felt nostalgic and warm and summery, yet so sad and weird and grasping.
posted by heatvision at 10:21 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, I thought it was fascinating to see Nate slowly turn into a total asshole as he gets back with his family.

I remember thinking some time ago that each season had some sort of a designated villain (Brenda in S2, Lisa in S3, George in S4) and that it was a bit of a revelation that it was Nate, not just in S5, but in a sense throughout the series.

There was a contemporary review that talked about how what set the series apart from other family-focused shows was that instead of there being any sort of core solidarity, they were always forced together despite being generally desperate to get away from one another. I don't know if I agree with that read, but it does bring up the tension of loving and barely tolerating people at the same time; viewers like me were relieved when that awful Lisa went missing, but the other characters, who had bonded with her, were genuinely sad.
posted by psoas at 10:25 AM on June 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just like so many families, you never really got a sense the Fishers liked each other very much but where forced together.
posted by The Whelk at 10:30 AM on June 15, 2011


I like to imagine that the events of "That's My Dog" are what turned David into Dexter.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:35 AM on June 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think what rang truer with me too is that it was plausible that none of the characters really had any friends.* On most TV shows, you see the main characters interact mainly among themselves because it'd be too ridiculously expensive/complex to try to follow through with all the relationships they maintain outside the circle, and it's kind of artificial feeling but you accept it for narrative economy/simplicity. With the Fishers/Chenoweths/Charleses/Diazes, it's apparent that these are all broken, inwardly-focused, difficult-to-deal-with people who can't maintain relationships.

*Yeah, Ruth had Bettina, and Claire had the classmates, and Nate had the creepy pederast dude, but it was mostly perfunctory.
posted by psoas at 10:37 AM on June 15, 2011


You know, for all these complaints (which I get) I really thought Claire was one of the most realistically written modern young adult female characters I'd ever seen on TV at the time, and I stand by that now. Maybe I should give the actress more credibility than the writing, though, because her facial expressions really got to me.

And I pray all this commentary hasn't soured my good memories of the show (Ruth on Ecstasy!) or convinced my partner not to give this series a chance sometime.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:39 AM on June 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I bought Claire 100% cause being moody, self-involved and rash are part of being a young adult. Nate still doing that is more "wow you have literally never grown up have you?" Nate soooo wants to be seen as a laid-back with-it guy but he's just as neurotic and tightly wound as the rest of his family. Claire was interesting in that she was screwed up but in a totally different way then her siblings.

You don't really notice it until a character with a relatively functioning social sense and relationships breezes in and you're "Oh wait, these people are spooky unhappy loners."
posted by The Whelk at 10:44 AM on June 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Six Feet Under" was amazing. Very unwatchable at times, but amazing. It's hard for me to think of a TV show that I was more riveted by following week after week after week, at least until it just got too damn depressing and relentless, especially since I'm not all that into serial storylines on TV shows (perhaps a consequence of having watched too many non-continuous storyline sitcoms as a kid). That said, I don't think I could ever re-watch it. It scares me a little that it's 10 years now since the first episode aired, and I think it's also a little morbidly right-on, which is pretty much the way that show was, too.
posted by blucevalo at 10:46 AM on June 15, 2011


I have problems with Six Feet Under - let's face it, it was a very problematic show.

But I want to point out that, unlike a lot of other television shows, it inspires a surprising quality of discussion. You can have some really amazing conversations with people about Six Feet Under (witness this thread!), and there aren't a lot of television shows where that's true.

It may have been problematic, but at least it was never boring or trite.
posted by ErikaB at 10:49 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Loved the show - the deaths at the beginning were often amazing - but, unlike a lot of people here, I thought the finale was laughably absurd. I mean, good on the writers for trying something different, and yes, it sort of 'made sense' in the context of a show about death, but I still recall wiping the tears from my eyes as I positively howled at these characters all biting it one after another, and I'd be lying if I claimed it didn't have a negative effect on how I view the show retrospectively.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:53 AM on June 15, 2011


I'm way way more excited about the new AV Club rewatches of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Cowboy Bebop. And there's also the Buffy/Angel recaps, but those have been running for a while.

The really odd one is for Newsradio. Great, great show, but recapping it is very odd.
posted by smackfu at 11:03 AM on June 15, 2011


Great, great show, but recapping it is very odd.

Speaking as a reformed freelance writer, pretty sure the thought process behind this series of articles began with "Hmm, how can I get paid for rewatching my favorite tv series?"
posted by entropicamericana at 11:21 AM on June 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Similarly, I guess that a key part of Dexter's brilliance is its ability to completely subvert this trope. Dexter is clearly a horrible, reprehensible person, and yet he's clearly the protagonist with distinctly human characteristics. You root for him. You want him to succeed.

That isn't super hard to understand, actually: Dexter's story has little to do with killing.

His plot, sure. But his story is:

Dexter was badly scarred by the violent death of his mother, left with very limited emotional resources. (Substitute neuroatypical geekdom for trauma if you like.) His dad taught him to uphold a strict personal code (serve the letter of a private law rather than responding organically to human complexity) at the expense of Dexter's ability to form normal human relationships; any inclination he might've had in that direction is gone. But as he floats through his 30s, Dexter is learning to be vulnerable - which threatens what he thinks of as the locus of his 'identity,' not to mention his competence.

The show depicts Dexter's very costly integration into society, and his changing relationship to a compulsion/addiction that he thinks is the only 'real' thing about him.

His compulsion happens to involve killing, but that's not the most essential thing about the show. The show is about the painful birth of his humanity.
posted by waxbanks at 11:23 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just like so many families, you never really got a sense the Fishers liked each other very much but where forced together.

Judging only from bits of 6FU and the abominable American Beauty, this might be Alan Ball's opinion about all nuclear families. His 'subversive' take on society is pure resentment, near as I can tell. What a stunningly limited range of social imagination he appears to have.
posted by waxbanks at 11:25 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eventually people will stop using the phrase 'deeply flawed' as if it told us even a single motherfucking thing about any human being. Ugh.
posted by waxbanks at 11:27 AM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, so much hate for the Fishers. I don't get it. To me, they were the first TV family (aside from Married With Children) I could relate to, that reminded me of my own family. They're pretty much all deeply flawed people, but they're also all funny, empathetic, and realistic. Real people do annoying things and get in the way of their own happiness, and the genius of SFU was showing that, and how people can grow (or not) as they learn (or don't) from their mistakes.

This exactly, so much. This show included real personalities as best as any show I've ever seen.
posted by odinsdream at 11:36 AM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, also, what made the show so incredible for me was discovering it at a time in my life when I had nothing else to do, and the show had already concluded. So, I was able to blow through the DVDs rapidly. I'm also pretty sure I watched every single episode twice in order to get the commentary tracks - which were just incredible. The actress playing Claire actually being a trained opera singer, for instance, made her show-tune dream sequences just that much more delicious.
posted by odinsdream at 11:39 AM on June 15, 2011


The actress playing Claire actually being a trained opera singer, for instance, made her show-tune dream sequences just that much more delicious.

Yes, when I first saw that scene in which Claire stands up on her desk in the office where's temping and does a musical number, I figured that could *only* work as a dream sequence, because her voice was just too damn good for a character who isn't at all focused on music. Micheal C. Hall also had quite a good voice, though not so good that you'd expect it would have to provide his character with more than a side interest in musical theatre. Peter Krause, on the other hand, cannot sing at all. They only had him sing a couple of times, and both times it was for comic effect and all I could think was "Please stop that noise AT ONCE."
posted by orange swan at 12:13 PM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you absolutely need to editorialize in your FPP, then throw in a few citations and make it, "considered by X and Y to be one of the finest television series of all time." But don't do this.

Oh, thanks for the advice. Here's some for you: if you have a problem with a post, take your complaint to MetaTalk rather than barging in and telling people "don't do this" (who do you think you are, seriously?). That being said, here are your fucking citations. "Considered by Time, Empire, The Times, and Aol TV to be one of the finest television series of all time, the show turned 10 years old a little over a week ago."
posted by Houyhnhnm at 12:14 PM on June 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


So I completely forgot how Brenda died, so I went here.

And there, I read about Rainn Wilson, whom I had completely forgotten about as well and that was, well, surprising and it made me smile.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:25 PM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


After David bites a movie agents ear at a sushi restaurant,

I think I have to re-wtch this, I always forget how bonkers the last season was
posted by The Whelk at 12:33 PM on June 15, 2011


Or was that Season 4? Gah there were some crazy-ass side plots in that show.
posted by The Whelk at 12:34 PM on June 15, 2011


Trying to imagine what would happen if you put Dexter Morgan and David Fisher in the same room. Who would get stabbed first?
posted by Fizz at 1:34 PM on June 15, 2011


An underrated aspect about Dexter is the use of the unreliable narrator. Dexter thinks he's an emotionless automaton, but he's not. His father's attempt to "cure" him hurt him as much as it helped him.

Dexter is a wildly uneven show, season by season, but when it's good, it's excellent.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:07 PM on June 15, 2011


Oh, and re: Nate turning into an asshole: I thought it was interesting how, when the series begins, we think Nate is the together one amidst a sea of jerks, but as the series progresses, that gets more and more upended. By the finale, we see how Nate's life, as well as his death, has ultimately taught each person to be a better person, even though Nate himself basically died while in the midst of being an even bigger asshole than usual. Nate's "together" persona was as much smugness and arrogance as it was anything else; he hardened and turned inward as life got more and more difficult, instead of knowing his own weaknesses and adapting from that. Meanwhile, Claire's ability to float from clique to clique and plan to plan turns out to be a feature, not a bug, and David's desire to slacken the reins of himself, so as to meld with Keith, wound up being the smartest thing he ever did. We also see how much happier Ruth becomes when she takes herself out of the Mommy role, and how much happier George is after treatment and after finally allowing himself to be the loyal longterm companion (albeit unromantic) of his beloved friend Ruth.

Meanwhile, Brenda and her brother seem absolutely miserable through to the end of their lives, forever gibbering at one another. What a waste of potential.

Oh, also, how awesome was Ted the lawyer?
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:15 PM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


After a long time resisting my partner's urging to watch this show (whenever I caught snippets on television the show appeared to have a Vaseline-on-the-lens-swimming-through-formaldehyde atmosphere that turned me off almost immediately) but I finally did and can say I think I ended up enjoying it more as a whole work than I did The Sopranos, particularly when comparing the last seasons on the respective shows.

Don't get me wrong, I think The Sopranos is one of the greatest exploration of an American family ever put on film, but I think the mafia aspect of the show got boring after about the third season (oh great another guy threatening Tony's position at the top). Plus I think the writers treated some of the characters pretty shabbily towards the end (I'm thinking of Christopher Moltisanti's exit in particular).

I'll admit it, I was bawling (not from laughter) during the season finale of 6FU, but just felt deflated at the end of The Sopranos.
posted by smithsmith at 2:38 PM on June 15, 2011


Aside from the ...enthusiastic construction work reveal, I can't think of a single storyline about the Diazs, while I liked the realistic working family look and the being constantly overworked and tired, they just kind of slid off the screen.
posted by The Whelk at 2:50 PM on June 15, 2011


I demand completely likeable characters so I don't have to reexamine my life, self, and values.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 3:05 PM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much of the character planning out was based around being arrested. All of the fishers, save, telling Claire, spend a lot of time butting against the roles they've been locked into.
posted by The Whelk at 3:15 PM on June 15, 2011


I can't think of a single storyline about the Diazs, while I liked the realistic working family look and the being constantly overworked and tired

You don't remember Miss "I got the damn lupus"?

The "working family" thing reminded me, though: the entire core cast of characters are middle-class professionals of one type or another (mortician, massage therapist, florist, cop/security) and yet--correct me if I'm wrong--none of them had (or were required to have) a college degree...except Vanessa, the nurse.

(George is not real, George is not real, George is not real.)
posted by psoas at 3:22 PM on June 15, 2011


Beans, meet plate.

Everyone is an awful person. Seriously. I was trying to figure out why the first season bothered me so much when I watched it until I figured out there isn't a single sympathetic character presented.

Everyone is a real(istic) person. Awful people can be sympathetic, no?

Keith seemed like a decent guy, if a little skeezy. I also mostly liked Claire. And Billy. And Brenda and Rico on good days.

Also, Joe. And Sarah. And Bettina. And, of course, Arthur.

Poor Arthur. Everyone was rooting for him to fuck Ruth, right?

Like George being a super sweetheart when they met, and then turning into a complete asshole for a few episodes. Remember that? Remember when he being super arrogant and rude with Ruth and her friends for 2 or 3 episodes, and every scene with him was reinforcing this shift? And then he abruptly went back to being nice, right before his breakdown.

Jeez, nobody gets crankier after they get married? And then temporarily repents when spouse threatens to leave? Remember that George was receiving feces in the mail from his son while he was (acting like) a "super sweetheart."

I'm glad other people appreciated Billy. One of my favorite characters ever.

I can't think of a single storyline about the Diazs

I think his wife beat the shit out the women Rico cheated on her with. Also, Rico always wanted to get ownership in the business.

The really odd one is for Newsradio. Great, great show, but recapping it is very odd.

Huh. I would have made that my #2 pick, right after Twin Peaks. It really is one of the finest sitcoms ever (IMO), even (perhaps especially) when it was ridiculous.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:28 PM on June 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't care much about the unevenness and problematic elements because the show aimed to do something significant and engaging and thought-provoking, so if its reach exceeded its grasp to some extent, I could live with that. That's the FelliniBlank TV Law: don't treat me like a fucking moron, and I'll cut you some slack in return.

There were so many riveting moments, but if I had to pick one, it's George doing Nate's eulogy. Jesus, I don't think I've cried any harder than that even in moments of real-life grief; I get all verklempt just mentioning it.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:59 PM on June 15, 2011


I really love Six Feet Under--it's probably one of my favorite series of all time, and it's one that I go back and watch in chunks of episodes every now and then.

I think the reason I liked is so much is that all of the characters were such fleshed-out human beings. This scene is as good an illustration as any.

Notice how the opening seconds of this scene reveals so much about the characters in such a short amount of screen time. Ruth meekly demands that someone say grace, and David opens his mouth to volunteer (and looks disappointed when Nikolai asserts his way into the task: "I will say grace"); Brenda gazes downward as Nikolai prays, and looks uncomfortable; meanwhile, Nate is staring at Nikolai and having an ecstacy-fueled spiritual epiphany; Gabe crosses himself dutifully and Claire blinks in surprise.

All of this in the first thirty seconds, and we have an idea of who these people are, how they feel towards each other, and what they believe (if they believe in anything).

That's just part of the reason that I love this show.
posted by duvatney at 5:28 PM on June 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also that scene, later, has Nates "little pools of engery" speech which has the perfecttopper, Brenda staring at him, and half seriously going into what would be a very comfortable role for her, caretaker of people having amusing trips, the indulgent little way she took his arm and said " you are so stoned" was just perfect. I love Rachel Griffiths.
posted by The Whelk at 5:39 PM on June 15, 2011


Meanwhile, Brenda and her brother seem absolutely miserable through to the end of their lives, forever gibbering at one another. What a waste of potential.

Oh, I don't know about that. Brenda remarried and had another child after Nate died, and besides raising three kids (Maya, the daughter she had with Nate, and the child she had with her second husband) had a very successful career as a psychologist, which included writing some books that were well-recieved. So I think she must have pulled herself together and flow right to do all that. It's Billy who doesn't seem to have changed, and therefore her relationship with him seems to have stayed the same to the end.
posted by orange swan at 5:49 PM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Numb. Arm. Numb arm. Numbarm, numbarm! Numb ... Narm! Narm narm narm ... Cookies! Nom nom nom nom ... narm!
posted by raysmj at 5:58 PM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Classic NewsRadio... Bill McNeal plays piano. RIP Phil Hartman
posted by wherever, whatever at 6:39 PM on June 15, 2011


Nate still doing that is more "wow you have literally never grown up have you?" Nate soooo wants to be seen as a laid-back with-it guy but he's just as neurotic and tightly wound as the rest of his family

Interesting. I'd agree, but it's what I like about Nate. I thought that we were just seeing the edges slip on a carefully cultivated facade of depth, one that was awkwardly patched over a lot of selfishness. We--and his family--didn't see him that way initially because we--and they--hardly knew him. And guys like Nate often seem charming, until they decide that you don't compliment their world view or a new sparkly project comes along--one that can make them seem better, deeper (ex: fatherhood, Maggie).

I've noticed that Californication tries to do something similar, but it's not as realistic or ruthless. Hank Moody is genuinely a good guy, but sometimes his goodness (he cheats because he never wants to break a woman's heart) is sort of saccharine. I think people are generally more like Nate than Hank.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:55 PM on June 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "comedy of discomfort" thing has been taken way too far

Fawlty Towers is getting on for 40.

posted by rodgerd at 1:03 AM on June 16, 2011


Funny Games: The Series
posted by jtron at 2:59 AM on June 16, 2011


I am really puzzled at the very mixed reactions here, but I wear my Six Feet Under love on my sleeve, so I do bristle at the idea that these characters were all unbearable or unlikable. Sure, each of them went through periods where it was difficult to like them, but doesn't everyone? I'm sure I'm not fun to be around all of the time. And I'm particularly sensitive to whether characters are likable in a ongoing narrative (ie. I respect how well The Sopranos is written, acted, directed, etc. But goddammit, I hate everyone on that show!)

I was happy to be frustrated by people who didn't always do the right thing or the sensible thing. I was intrigued by a family who seemed to stay together for the business or for their deceased father or the children for their siblings, but the whole family never felt cohesive. I mean, if anything rings more true to me in Six Feet Under than any other fictional family is that there is rarely a sense of "us against the world", which so many ongoing family dramas are about.

I basically adore the first three seasons without question. The last two seasons are flawed, but since the show had done so much right by that point, I was okay with it trying and sometimes failing in its later seasons. And looking back, I still don't think there's a bad episode - bad story threads, maybe. Characters that don't quite work. But nearly every episode contains a moment or two that is essential to the ongoing story of the Fishers.

I happen to like "That's My Dog", even though I find it incredibly uncomfortable to watch (the only episode of the show I've only seen twice) because it breaks the series' format and because it puts the viewer into David's POV. The episode gets hijacked much like David does. There's an interesting discussion to be had of the episode's sexual politics, but I think the PTSD fallout is perfect for David's ongoing story - especially in the way it resolves itself eventually. David was more scared of what was inside him than anything else.

And I have to concur on those who loved the final episode. For me it's perfect from beginning to end. The final sequence reduces me to tears every. single. fucking. time. But it's so fitting.

Maybe this show is a rorschach test - it very much depends on what people bring to it that determines whether they like it or not. Particularly whether they relate to the characters and feel they are realistic. I mean, I guess that is true of all shows to an extent - but it puzzles me why Six Feet Under has gotten so much mixed reaction here, when The Sopranos, The Wire and even Mad Men are basically universally loved, even though the characters in those shows are also difficult to like.

But I guess we're all different.
posted by crossoverman at 3:19 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well as mentioned upthread, the show generates a lot of quality discussion. I have problems with it, but I did watch all 5 years of it and I wouldn't still be yaking about it if I didn't fundamentally like it.

The likability issue is the sense I got, which got stronger near the end, that every major character was completely devoid of empathy (that is, for other characters) and making everyone's life miserable for no good reason. It's like the Ebert rule about the story only working if everyone is an idiot, too many plotlines required everyone to be an asshole.
posted by The Whelk at 7:32 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I adored this show -- hadn't watched it at all until the last season was on, caught up through the DVDs and then cried like a baby when the finale came on.

I'd trade everything else on television for another show that emotionally involving.
posted by empath at 7:39 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man oh man!! I just looked up Lauren Ambrose (SFU's Claire) to see what she's been up to since the show, and learned she was the voice of KW for Where The Wild Things Are.

SQUEE!!
posted by odinsdream at 7:56 AM on June 16, 2011


Brenda remarried and had another child after Nate died, and besides raising three kids (Maya, the daughter she had with Nate, and the child she had with her second husband) had a very successful career as a psychologist, which included writing some books that were well-recieved.

Huh? Is this from one of those "obituaries" that were posted online? I never took those seriously.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 11:06 AM on June 16, 2011


bad story threads, maybe

bad story threads, definitely. ^_^

Huh? Is this from one of those "obituaries" that were posted online? I never took those seriously.

You could argue some of it is in the final scene, no? (WARNING: SPOILERS)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:22 AM on June 16, 2011


Yes, you can see in the final sequence that Brenda has a new husband and has a child with him, and I got the rest from the obituaries on the SFU site. And why not take those obituaries at face value? They are perfectly consistent with what the "Breathe Me" scenes show.
posted by orange swan at 11:50 AM on June 16, 2011


I love the show with the fire of a thousand suns, with one exception...

Maya.

There is never a scene where Maya has a tantrum, or even really cries. Maya is a prop. I didn't notice this much the first go-through, but when re-watching the series, it seriously bugged me. Maya never acts like an actual KID. She's always quietly in the background. For someone who spends more time with children than adults, Maya felt totally off to me.

Also: poor kid. Losing both of her biological parents and then raised by her step-mom? Ouch. That's a shitty hand to be dealt.
posted by sonika at 6:18 PM on June 16, 2011


I really wanted a "MAYA FISHER - EARLY DEATH" thing in the ending cause she was such a blank plot device I wanted her to turn into a teenage trouble case and end up in a car wreck or overdose or something.
posted by The Whelk at 6:25 PM on June 16, 2011


Yes, Maya being orphaned at too young an age to even remember her parents.... awful. However, Brenda did really love Maya and was a good mother to her (despite some slip-ups when she was dealing with Nate's death), and Maya got to grow up in a family with her two half-siblings. She also got to see her paternal grandmother and aunt and uncles regularly. Though I doubt she would have seen much of her mother's family!
posted by orange swan at 8:19 PM on June 16, 2011


I just realized that Maya is born in Season 2 and isn't included in the end sequence, save for sitting with Brenda at Claire's wedding. To be fair, neither are Anthony or Durrell, but they're introduced MUCH later in the series.

Spoiler: And I don't think Nate's really her father, but either way, her biological father is dead one way or another.
posted by sonika at 8:24 PM on June 16, 2011


Why I decided that was a spoiler is beyond me. It's time for bed.
posted by sonika at 8:24 PM on June 16, 2011


Some part of me thought the Ending was too nice, people getting to die heroically or dignified (or fall down on a cruise ship) watching it, I secretly wanted more "and then they got eaten by a mountain lion"

But then you get to Brenda geting bored to death and it is perfect so ..there.
posted by The Whelk at 8:38 PM on June 16, 2011


Yes, you can see in the final sequence that Brenda has a new husband and has a child with him, and I got the rest from the obituaries on the SFU site. And why not take those obituaries at face value? They are perfectly consistent with what the "Breathe Me" scenes show.

The obituaries are also all printed in the material that comes with the DVD box set (the one with the astroturf top), so I would think that makes them pretty official as the endings to each character's story line.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:27 AM on June 17, 2011


I see. I have the individual seasons on DVD and season five did not include the obituaries, so I didn't know how official they were other than merely being on HBO's website. The show is so complete in its own way that I never thought they were really necessary, but to each his or her own.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 12:36 PM on June 17, 2011


I just realized that Maya is born in Season 2 and isn't included in the end sequence, save for sitting with Brenda at Claire's wedding. To be fair, neither are Anthony or Durrell, but they're introduced MUCH later in the series.

Anthony and Durrell are both in a bunch of future shots in the final scene (e.g. David teaching one of them how to embalm; Claire's wedding) .

We don't get to see their deaths, b/c they are minor characters (just like George or Bettina).

I'm glad they didn't make Maya grow up TV style, e.g. a 10 y.o. after 3 years.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:37 PM on June 17, 2011


mrgrimm - Right, I meant that we don't see Anthony or Durrell's deaths either. And it's pretty bats to me that Maya is more of a prop than a character. She's in more seasons than George and she's Nate's daughter - but we never know her or see her as anything other than an object to be argued over.
posted by sonika at 2:49 PM on June 17, 2011


She's in more seasons than George and she's Nate's daughter - but we never know her or see her as anything other than an object to be argued over.

She's also only about three years old when the show ends. There are limits to how much can be expected of a child actor that young.
posted by orange swan at 7:31 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


She's also only about three years old when the show ends. There are limits to how much can be expected of a child actor that young.

That's a good point. How many TV shows have actors 3 or under that do anything else but just sit there? (The character Rickon is aged in the Game of Thrones TV adaptation likely for that very reason.)

I'm looking at you, Modern Family. I realize they are setting up a future classic deadpan character, but that little girl looks drugged to me. If I remember correctly, at least Maya smiled and responded to interaction.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:06 AM on June 20, 2011


Calling All Angels. That is all.
posted by stevil at 8:52 PM on June 27, 2011


No, that is all. ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:57 AM on June 28, 2011


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