Four years after practially everyone else in the free world, I finally finished watching Six Feet Under. OMFG. I started watching it years ago on DVD, long before the series ended. Round about the beginning of season 3, however, I got bored with the characters; they really began to grate on my nerves. This was right around the time Lisa became central to the plot, and every scene she was in was like nails on a chalk board. So I quit watching.
A couple of months ago I was at a dinner party with friends who are die-hard fans, and they insisted that I give it another go. I borrowed seasons 3 and 4 and, these years later, really got back into it. Don’t get me wrong: they were still whiney, self-absorbed, maudlin, and angsty. But this time I totally loved it. Some of the best casting and guest stars ever (hello Patricia Clarkson, Kathy Bates, and Catherine O’Hara)! Anyway, I got season 5 from Netflix and finished the series on Sunday night. In order to process it all, a list seemed necessary.
1. I did not cry throughout the entire series finale.
2. I watched the last 10 minutes the next morning and wept like an infant.
3. Immediately after doing so, I bought the song from the last 10 minutes on iTunes; pathetic (and marvelously necessary).
4. Then I went back to the DVD and watched every possible extra, including the two-part “In Memorium” special *and* the bonus feature about the show’s influence on the following: television; popular culture; America’s [in]ability to deal with or even think about death; and all funeral directors everywhere both personally and professionally.
5. I am torn about the ending in the following way: in a show about death, which is the ultimate uncertainty, the end of the series was too tidy — everything got wrapped up. While questions remain, we at least know *what happened* to everyone. For a show that deals in mystery, they really don’t leave any. In a sense I felt like the show’s creators didn’t give the audience enough credit for being able to deal with nuance, speculation, or uncertainty — like they played right into our desire to know everything, to know exactly how it all turned out … and thus on the other hand they gave us exactly what we wanted, which was so amazingly brilliant who could complain about it? I loved every minute of it.
6. Brenda’s death was possibly the funniest scene from the entire 5 seasons; it was like Billy literally and finally talked/annoyed her to death. It was fabulous.
7. Claire! Claire! Claire! Claire! Claire!
9. Listening to “the song” from iTunes.
10. More tears.
My friends who loaned me the DVDs and encouraged me to give the show another chance asked me yesterday what I thought the best part of the finale was. After thinking about it, I realized that I can’t stop thinking about the shot of Nate disappearing in the rearview mirror as Claire drives away — his slow descent beyond the frame of her reflection, until at last he was gone — looking back, looking forward, history, memory, future, and endless potential all at once.