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.)