This Day in 'Six Feet Under' History


June 3rd, 2001 – August 21st, 2005

“I wanted to set the show in L.A. …because L.A. is the world capitol of the denial of death.” – Alan Ball

Two years ago today, HBO aired the finale of Six Feet Under, the landmark dramatic series -winner of 9 Emmys over its 5 seasons. Born just prior to 9/11/01, the timing proved to be appropriate for a series using death and the industry of keeping up appearances – for the dead and their surviving families – as a backdrop. Fresh off his Oscar win for the American Beauty screenplay, Alan Ball took on the HBO project, and was surprised at the network’s tolerance of frank talk and their readiness for the tweaking of paradigms. Molds were broken, or reshaped at least – something that two years of Sopranos success could afford them.

They had read my original draft, and the only note I got, was ‘It feels a little safe. Could you just make the whole thing just be a little bit more fucked up?’ And I thought ‘Thank you God.’ I didn’t think I would ever get that note from a network, ever.”

Featuring Nate (Peter Krause) as the prodigal son – brother David (Michael C. Hall in his first on-screen role) as the still-in-the-closet de facto head of Fisher & Sons funeral home – Frances Conroy as the too-forgiving matriarch, and Lauren Ambrose as the youngest Fisher coming into her own, Six Feet Under covered the territory of living – (hetero and same) sex & love, duty to family, adolescence, twilight – in such a way that death was merely the endgame in which Ball and the cast of relative unknowns could frame and import the everything in-between. With all due respect to David Chase, there’s no newness to the mob family game. It was the genre-twisting trailblaze of SFU, combined with the sure-bet lead-in of The Sopranos that earned HBO the follow-our-lead rep for cable television.

Attached: The Spoiler of All Spoilers – the final six-plus minutes of Six Feet Under. (New to you? Don’t. You’ll regret it someday. Watch the damn show.)
— More death of the party favors: Final minutes, extended cut | Alan Ball’s postmortem interview on NPR’s Fresh Air | A Sopranos Fan’s wishful-thinking SFU finale-mashup | Stalk the Fisher House with the help of Google Maps.

— Previously: Peter Krause in the upcoming ABC series, Dirty Sexy Money.
Also, Alan Ball’s next (2008-ish) HBO series: the vampired True Blood (Variety). Cross your fingers.

— Tabled discussion for the near-future: more Michael C. Hall in Dexter – and Lauren Ambrose to join Parker Posey in the Fox comedy: The Return of Jezebel James (buzz is bad with a capitol B).

Posted by Ted Zee on August 21st 2007 | Home Page | 5 Comments Subscribe to this site's feed

5 Responses

  1. William Says:

    I mourn the death of this show. I miss it.

    Truly some of the best writing on television hands down.

  2. Ted Z. Says:


  3. William Says:

    Someone should have printed up a NARM t-shirt.

    Uhhh, another missed opportunity.

  4. Ted Z. Says:

    There was a shirt floating around. I think it went out of ciruclation

  5. True Coincidence » Big Screen Little Screen Says:

    […] Under has been referenced in 37 different posts here over the past two years. One might argue that it inspired the very existence of this blog – a defacto depository for the hopes and dreams placed upon the […]

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