Ten hours of nursing a day (plus pumping) has led me to my best television discovery yet. Six Feet Under. If you have not seen it, rent it. Now. Go to the store. Pick it up. I will still be here when you get back.
Okay. For those who have seen it, may I just say: I am still reeling from the final episode, which I watched last night. I have never been so moved by a piece of television. There are many shows I have liked over the years, but I have never seen a television show I would call art. This was art. And when I watched the final episode last night I was sobbing. The last 15 minutes are a montage of each of the characters deaths. Some are sad and some are funny, but they are all fitting and true.
This was the beauty of the show. So full of darkness and light, ambiguity and rich, three-dimensional characters, Six Feet Under does not shy away from anything taboo. It is completely briliant in its audacity. In many ways our culture is anesthetized to death despite its inevitability. We push it away from us, speak about it in euphemism and feel uncomfortable at its mention. I think that must be why Six Feet Under is such an underappreciated show.
It may seem odd to watch a show centered so much around death when I am currently so focused on new life. In fact, nothing could be more appropriate. The show is not "about" death. It is about life and how to live it even within the shadow of death. Six Feet Under (or as we fans like to say, "6'") depicts life with all its heartbreak and laughter and boredom. But each episode begins with a death. While the Fisher family members lead their lives, death is all around them. Ghosts are in the hall, telling them what to do, sometimes even taunting them. Death is both a mundane part of life when it is a stranger and a life changing event to the family members. But life continues. The entire show is a portrait of the way life goes on for the grieving. In the first episode the family's patriarch dies in a car accident. All five seasons are about the way the family moves on with their lives but also stay steeped in his memory. The father's ghost is a recurring character.
The final show made me want to call everyone I have ever loved and tell them how much they mean to me. For me, the takeaway message is that our lives are just a series of meaningless events without people to love and that time is passing quickly even when we are bored. We have to grab eachother now.
It is the best show I have seen on television. If you have not seen it, rent it on DVD. You won't be sorry. It is not a show for the feint of heart. But if you have the ability to refrain from judging and just watch, it is the most brilliant 63 hours in television history. Except for Twin Peaks. A post for another day.