I really enjoyed Six Feet Under, though at times I did find it a bit of a slog to get through.
There were a few peaks and troughs during the HBO show’s five seasons but, overall, it was always worth watching and it certainly remains one of the best American dramas of recent years.
For those unlucky enough not to have seen it, the slightly surreal family drama revolved around the Fishers, a family of undertakers in Los Angeles. It was very much a character-led drama, with a rich vein of black humour running through it, which explored our attitudes to relationships, death and mortality.
Most episodes began by portraying the death of the Fishers’ latest client, which would usually provide the main characters with cause to reflect on and explore their own lives, mortality and (often stormy) relationships with each other.
One of the more memorable techniques the show employed was having the characters conduct imaginary conversations with the “ghosts” of the dead people they encountered. Most notably, these included recurring appearances by the family patriarch (played by Richard Jenkins), who was killed at the start of the show’s first episode.
The final series was something of a return to form after a few odd, unsatisfying detours in season three and four, and the final episode gave us what is arguably the best-ever ending to a TV series.
To set up the clip, which is the last 10 minutes or so of that final episode, the producers shocked viewers a few episodes earlier by killing off one of the main characters, eldest Fisher brother Nate (Peter Krause) – though he continued to appear in the last few episodes as one of the show’s “ghosts”.
By the end of the final episode, the youngest Fisher child Claire (Lauren Ambrose) has decided to leave home and head east to pursue her dream of becoming a photographer. She says her emotional goodbyes to her mother (Frances Conroy) and her brother David (Dexter star Michael C Hall), who has finally found contentment with his partner Kieth and their adopted kids.
Claire sets off in her car, puts a CD in the player (the song is Breathe Me by Sia Furler) and so begins an extraordinary and very moving montage. The further Claire gets from home in her car, the further ahead in time the montage moves, slowly revealing the fates of all the show’s surviving main characters.
It’s only fitting that a show that demystified death and meditated on mortality to such wonderful effect should not just end and leave its characters in a perpetual limbo but, instead, showed us their final fates. Truly an astonishing and outstanding piece of television.