Daily Grat: Six Feet Under

Given my last “Daily Gratitude” you might imagine I’ve been thinking about death.

And eventually thinking about death always gets me back to “Six Feet Under,” the TV series that ran on HBO during the first half of this decade. We came late to the party with this show, not really finding it until halfway through the next-to-last season. But once we started watching, we got hooked, eventually buying the DVD box set of the entire series. Then we watched it, start to finish, during the Christmas before the final season. Yes, a strange way to spend a Christmas. But working our way through the series was a powerful thing.

Here’s how Wikipedia describes the show:

“Six Feet Under received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for its writing and acting, and consistently drew high ratings for the HBO network. Six Feet Under has frequently been described by critics as one of the greatest television series of all time…”

The show featured the Fishers, a family of morticians who operate a classic “family owned” mortuary/funeral home in the basement and first floor of what is also their home. Each of the main characters are either members of this family, or connected to them somehow. Wikipedia continues:

“On one level, the show is a conventional family drama, dealing with such issues as relationships, infidelity, and religion. At the same time, it is a show distinguished by its unblinking focus on the topic of death, which it explores on multiple levels (personal, religious, and philosophical). Each episode begins with a death — anything from drowning or heart attack to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome — and that death usually sets the tone for each episode, allowing the characters to reflect on their current fortunes and misfortunes in a way that is illuminated by the death and its aftermath. The show also has a strong dosage of dark humor and surrealism running throughout.”

This is drew me to the show…this blunt (sometimes shockingly so) portrayal of death. As somebody who finds myself around death more than the average person, I found it incredibly refreshing. I am convinced that there has never been another show to confront death with such honesty and realism….and I doubt there ever will be.

Quoting authors Shoshana and Teman, Wikipedia continues:

“The series hurls death provocatively in the viewer’s face, each episode consciously serving as a “memento mori” for its audience. Consequently, death is starkly present within the life-world of the series, challenging the strict binary between life and death. The blurring of these boundaries evokes the idea that the living can be more lifeless than the physically deceased and the departed can be livelier than the living.”

Not only is it one of the finest TV dramas ever, but its final episode is, IMHO, the single finest “final espisode” in TV history (I know…again with the hyperbole….but, hey, it’s my blog/my opinion…)

In a series that dealt with death so realistically, it ended with this scene, feature the haunting music of Sia’s “Breathe Me.”


(If you can’t see the player, click here)

Again, if you didn’t know the show, this conclusion might not have the power it had for me. But I found it haunting and beautiful.

We could all use more awareness of death and mortality. And, IMHO, the more we *become* aware, the more death becomes both less mysterious and *more* mysterious, at the same time.

So, I’m grateful to “Six Feet Under” for existing, to Alan Ball for creating it, and for still being there for anybody who wants to unpack some serious stuff.

(During this year, my goal is to find something new to be thankful for every single day, and to add that thanksgiving as a blog entry, under the title “My Daily Gratitude.” I started this kick back around Thanksgiving, and it’s already resulted in a favorite new song of mine. The goal of this ongoing spiritual exercise is to see if doing such a thing might inspire even more gratitude within me, and to foster general awareness of life on a deeper level.)

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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