I finished it.
Can I say something though? People need to stop building stuff up. Good lord. I heard that the series finale of Six Feet Under was going to blow my mind into my hands and make me weep tears I didn’t know I was capable of weeping, and none of that happened. I’m not a robot, either. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that it had been put on this insanely high pedestal for me, and also I sort of knew that [SPOILER ALERT] everyone would die in the end. The fact that I had just seen J. Edgar, which heightened my awareness of bad aging makeup, was probably an unfair disadvantage, too. In the show’s final moments, I did not find myself a blubbering idiot. I was silent and sad and slightly disappointed. Impressed, too, though. It’s complicated.
I should explain “disappointed,” because it doesn’t only stem from the fact that I knew what would happen. I guess that with all of the crazy deaths that happened on this show–think of the crazy religious lady who thought the floating sex dolls were angels and a sign of the rapture!–I expected the characters to go out with more of a literal bang. But all of them, with the exception of Keith, literally keeled over. As in their heads dropped down, and they were dead. Of course, one was a heart attack, one was a stroke, and three were “old age,” but that seems so anti-cimactic to me, given how they all lived their lives. Maybe it was Alan Ball’s commentary on the unpredictability of life; Keith was a good guy and got shot, while Claire messed around with drugs and lived to be 102. But the hastiness of it all did not sit well with me, and it still kind of doesn’t. I also felt cheated that Claire ended up with Joe, because we barely just met him, and that we didn’t get to see how George, Billy, Vanessa, or Maya lived their last moments. Oh, wait. I’m six years late to this party. Nevermind.
Instead of blabbing on about how pissed I am, I should probably devote some time to how grateful I am for this show. I think I’m in a particularly contemplative mood about it at the moment, given that I’ve just watched 90ish minutes of retrospectives included in the DVD set. But I really am grateful. This show made me more comfortable talking, learning, and dealing with death than I think anything else could. It’s certainly an unconventional and semi-sensationalized tactic, but given how dependent we are on entertainment, it also seems like the most logical. And Six Feet Under didn’t necessarily sugarcoat anything. As I learned in those retrospectives, Alan Ball wasn’t interested in his characters being linear or predictable, because real people aren’t that way, either. They’re inconsistent when they shouldn’t be, they make the same mistakes again, they fall into terrible habits, and they’re pains in each other’s asses. No other show has made this more abundantly clear, and also contrasted it against the stark background of mortality and regret.
Even until the end, the Fishers were a unique type of TV family. They drew me in with their fucked-up version of normalcy, constantly surprising me with both naivete and cynicism. And even though I felt like I knew them as if they were real people, I realized that Six Feet Under never quite let us into their lives so much as to love them unconditionally. Instead, we had to trust that the other characters loved them because they knew everything about them, and that we should just do the same. Nate, David, Claire, and Ruth all did loads of despicable things during their complicated lives, and often times we saw them portrayed in negative, selfish, unflattering, even secretive lights. But because they were loved by others, we felt compelled to root for them even though we might not have the best argument to do so. Just because. And it’s hard to admit, but many relationships today are as broken and re-mended as that. Television could use more of this brute honesty, don’t you think?