Friday, November 04, 2005

Six Feet Under

** mild spoilers **

So, Six Feet Under is finally dead and buried. Did you catch the finale on E4 the other night? What a show. I’ve been a huge fan since the beginning. Ending it now is probably a good idea. The characters were beginning to go in directions that I wasn’t fully convinced about - Nate was really starting to grate, and he was the one I most identified with - and it’s always good to end on a high note rather than outstay your welcome.

But what about that final montage? Wow. As a viewer, I was completely overwhelmed and emotional with the style and presentation of the characters’ fate. It’s been haunting me these last few days and looking at it now as a writer, I am hugely impressed, inspired and envious of Alan Ball’s bold but extremely effective choice. The music by the way is ‘Breathe Me’ by Sia, available on iTunes, already downloaded thank you very much.

Last year, I was at a weekend workshop with John Yorke, Head of BBC Drama, and he said he would love to find a UK version of Six Feet Under. But I don’t think he meant that he wanted a series about a UK-set family funeral home, and the dysfunctional relationships therein. I think what he meant was that he would love to find a show that had a similar richness and complexity of character.

A series that was bold and ambitious, contemporary and identifiable. Something that stretched the creative boundaries of television drama whilst still remaining true to its emotional core and expectations of its audience. Never once do the flashbacks, dreams or fantasy sequences feel overly contrived or unnecessary. And of course, a show that has at its heart a subject matter that touches us all, a universal theme about life and death, and the delicate balance between both.

Alan Ball and his team of writers Jill Soloway, Kate Robin, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Scott Buck, Rick Cleveland, Nancy Oliver and Craig Wright (do you think I had to look them up? sheesh, as if) have truly raised the bar and I salute them for their hard work and diligence over Six Feet Under’s brief spell on this earth. Ok, so I fantasised about being part of the writers’ room, so what. I’m a geek, I admit it. I’ve got the box-sets and listened to the commentaries (usually very illuminating by the way, Alan Ball in particular gives good directing tips) and co-show runner Alan Poul also deserves a mention for his excellent contribution (he gives good commentary also).

So, I hope we will all mourn the passing of one of the most daring and dark and funny shows that has been on TV. I know there are those who don’t enjoy it or never got into it, which is fair enough as it’s not to everyone’s tastes (viewing figures in the UK were never spectacular) but from a writing point-of-view, it really was something to treasure and behold. May it rest in peace.

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