I rented this for three reasons. 1) It’s Lia’s favorite show. 2) Lia and I have completely opposite tastes in television, so I was intrigued. 3) Netflix gave me a 4.9/5 rating for it. That’s ridiculously high. That’s, like, more than my actual favorite show.
I’ll get the slight let down over with: I am not obsessed with the show after watching it. That’s partially because, while doing research for some end-of-year lists for TV.com, I accidentally spoiled the ending for myself. So I know what happens at the end of Season 5. But I am rather intrigued by the show. It took me a little while to get into it, particularly because, well, it’s about a family who runs a funeral home. Everything in the show centers around death. There’s no way to avoid it. And at the beginning of each episode, someone dies. So you have to mentally prepare yourself. But as I was watching it, I realized that I was becoming even more comfortable with the idea of death than I thought I was. The show provides this oddly settling take on death, a perspective you truly can’t get anywhere else, an indescribable feeling that it’s all going to be okay, even if it’s fucked up right now. That isn’t to say that the show is incredibly optimistic, because it’s not. It’s a show about pessimists. Pessimists in a pessimistic profession trying to be optimistic in an optimistic world. It’s heavy shit, but it’s impossible not to get sucked in.
The story that first hooked me was that of David Fisher, played by the absolutely brilliant Michael C. Hall. I cannot get over how fantastic an actor he is. How he’s convincing as any profession, any sexuality, any personality. His closeted gay character is the one I most look forward to watching, and the main reason why I decided to add Season 2 to my queue. The second is of Brenda Chenoweth (Rachel Griffiths), whose character must have been an absolute ball/bitch to write. What a complex person, and what an actress to tackle that mind.
It’s not an easy show to watch a lot of, and I certainly don’t plan to marathon it. I’ll get to the seasons when I get to them. But I look forward to it. I look forward to the incredibly fascinating story arcs of each of the characters, who are lumpy and pale and inconsistent and selfish and REAL, real being the most operative word, of course. HBO is one of the only sources for truly real characters, and for that I am eternally grateful, especially as a professional television critic. That sounds weird to say, but it’s true. It’s weird to think of a world without the Fishers, or the Sopranos, or the Henricksons, or Carrie Bradshaw, or James McNulty. Showtime is a great channel, but HBO’s shows are just that much deeper. I highly recommend this show to someone who hopes to learn a bit about themselves, and someone who’s willing to be vulnerable to themselves. It’s a really interesting experience.