Thursday, June 07, 2007

Witz Has No Idea If He Pickz: "Six Feet Under"

By all accounts, Six Feet Under is/was an amazing television show. It ran five strong seasons on HBO and is having incredible DVD sales including the 100+ dollar complete series set that came out just before last Christmas. I recently pounded my way through all five seasons (which is to say, watched all within a one-month time period, finishing up the final two seasons in less than a week) and really don't know what I think of it all. Here's why:

I went into the show expecting it to be great, so my expectations were probably already high-- but then, everyone says that shouldn't matter because IT IS that good. Unfortunately, while I RECOGNIZED that the writing was great and the acting well done, and the characters perfectly cast, I kept becoming consistently BORED. For the most part, I think it's because I didn't thoroughly enjoy any of the characters. In fact, every character in the show pissed me off for some extended period of time and had me hoping they'd "Shoot each other in the face." I couldn't really invest myself in any of the characters and that meant that all of the DRAMA that was supposed to pull me into the show, really just had me frustrated, wanting something to actually HAPPEN to speed up the pace. I'll go through the list:

Claire: I get it, but I'm not seventeen anymore, and while I did my share of whining and bitching in my day, it's tough to feel for ya. Ruth: "..........BAH!......." was mostly your schtick, and while you contributed some funny and meaningful moments, most of the time, you were just really really dull. Nate: Ya started out interesting to watch, and progressed into a super annoying repetitive mope that was validated by the plot, but terribly uninteresting to watch. David: The Great White Hope-- your character came around and just as I was ready to hate Nate and Claire, I came to like you. Especially when you were the one character that had something HAPPEN TO THEM TO MAKE THE PLOT INTERESTING. Keith: Redundant. Brenda and Billy: Shoot each other in the face simultaneously. Lisa: Agh. Federico: You held out the longest before annoying the hell out of me. Thanks for keepin' it together the first three seasons.

Now part of why I dislike a lot of these characters might be because I cared about other characters at various times in the show and they were creating problems for each other. But here is my ultimate problem with the show-- In real life, people create problems for each other, are stupid, selfish, do good and bad things, and move a fairly mild pace-- I really can't have my television show doing the same thing. An inordinate number of bad things happen to these people and they never manage to recover to a state of even relative contentment. It wasn't difficult, but simply dull to watch a family and group of people where only bad things happen to them. When something goes right, they make it bad. Sometimes, random shit happens that plunges them BACK into a state of grief or sorrow right after rebounding (i.e. a misc relative we never heard of dies by getting hit by a falling toilet). I think part of investing oneself in a series is being with the characters and feeling invested when the GOOD things happen in edition to the BAD. Like you're in it all with them. When only bad things happen, even if it is supposed to reflect on life and ourselves, there's not much of a reason for me to be spending my time empathizing. I already have problems.

But then something happened.

I watched the last few episodes and starting getting very choked up by them. Then the series finale came and I was floored by it. At first I didn't notice much more than feeling the usual choked-up-ed-ness at the end of an emotional episode, but afterwards, I realized that I was actually very physically and emotionally upset. It felt like I was grieving. And for what? For a show I didn't really like? This makes me think that I actually DID truly care about the characters in the show, and their lives. And yet, I was honestly bored most of the time, if only by the pacing. My only conclusion is that everything I said was wrong with the show, actually was what unconsciously drew me into the show-- it's like another life. With these other people I know and am privy to. I might not have liked them, but they were there, just like some people in all of our lives. They were like those relatives you don't like, but keep on seeing on holidays. Maybe I didn't hate them all as much as I thought, or maybe I did, but they were still very very...PRESENT.

Ultimately, I think Six Feet Under is one of those shows you have to see for yourself and judge. Maybe it's right up your alley. The writing, acting, directing were all great, and I think it was a combination of the three along with the music selection that made the series finale so powerful. I would even go so far as to say that all five seasons are worth it JUST for the series finale. All of the emotion and depth they tried to get across so many times in the course of the series finally comes through full force in the last episode. They finally make you get it and feel it and be a part of it.

Under Six Feet,

P.S. I think I was partial to Michael C. Hall (aka David) due to having watched the series directly after having been introduced to him as Dexter in the showtime series "Dexter." If you watch the shows in this order, you will LAUGH A LOT at the start of Six Feet Under. If you watch in the opposite order, go back and checkout Six Feet Under after watching Dexter, if only for a few minutes, it's incredible. What do I conclude from this? Dexter Season Two in October is going to be awesome.

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