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July 26 2002

Let M.E. rest in peace? (Ok, that's a contender for the worst attempt at punning ever) This Slate article discusses the HBO series Six Feet Under and says it's overrated. The author, compares SFU to BtVS:

"Six Feet Under may have won an outrageous 23 Emmy nominations, but it's really just Ally McBeal in mortality drag: dream sequences, romanticized narcissism, fake-o self-conscious dialogue, meaning-of-life montages and all. The characters may be grown-ups, but the show isn't about death and mortality at all; it's about adolescence—and not real, morally complex adolescence (the rich subject of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, perpetually snubbed at the Emmys) but creative adolescence, art that only pretends to take risks. Six Feet Under doesn't wrestle with the moral issues it purports to raise; it just gropes them for a thrill."

I've only recently (and without much concentration) watched the first episode of Six Feet Under, and it didn't grab me at all. Can't judge a series on its pilot, but it felt like Party of Five in the Morgue, the dialogue too soapy and the characters not very likable. Compare this to my first ever exposure to Buffy, which felt like something akin to lust at first sight. (My first epi was The Pack).

Any SFU afficionados around?

Warning: that Slate article may serve you the most obnoxious page covering advertisement in the short history of the commercial web.

I wish I could get my thoughts on Six Feet Under into some kind of order, because at the moment I just have this instinctive response that says "more, please" without really having identified why.

(Disclaimer: here in the UK we're only at S1E7, so I have a limited amount of material to go on.)

So far I've been praising it in fairly bland terms - interesting storylines, superb characterisation, beautifully acted, etc. - without applying much analysis to its ideas and concepts.

However, there are one or two thoughts that spring to mind. Saying that the programme is "not about death and mortality" is probably a bit like saying that Angel isn't about a winged cherub. To me, it seems to be definitely, defiantly about life. Specifically, I see it as being about relationships - in other words, how the living relate to each other and to those they have lost.

Yes, it may be schmaltzy at times, but it's only a TV drama. You think that Buffy is the height of realism? (If so, I will decline your kind invitation to cross your threshold...) There are certain stylistic devices that are employed in the interest of 'good TV'. You may think they've failed - that's your perogative - but to question why they're there at all is a little disingenuous.

Personally I've found the series frequently moving and often very touching. The scene where Nate discovered his father's secret room was riveting. David - both as a fictional character and a performance by an actor - is a masterpiece. If you believe that the mother is "an uptight, hysterical nag who needs to get laid", this probably reflects more on you than on her - look at the very subtle interplay between her and the daughter.

I could write more, but I'd be rambling. However, I'm beginning to realise that I want to read more about SFU in the same way that I have about the Whedon shows. Fisheresque, anyone?
Emily Nussbaum is yet another example of a critic who fills up inches specifically to point out that she has no hand on the pulse of what the audience is wanting. Statements like "art that only pretends to take risks" and "Six Feet Under doesn't wrestle with the moral issues it purports to raise; it just gropes them for a thrill." just frustrate me. Since when has the viewing audience shown they want to invest in high caliber art that takes risks which don't pay off?

Six Feet Under, Sex In The City, The Sopranos, Buffy, Angel and yes even Ally McBeal (until near the end) accomplished what the audience wanted. Entertainment on the audience's level. Not too highbrow. Not too dumbed down. Call it intelligent sleaze if you must but since I appear to be on the level of appreciation for this kind of programming I take offense to that. These shows deliver to their audience what the audience wanted. Producing television is more like cooking than it is critiquing. Nussbaum's practically comparing it to prostitution.

This past year many would argue that Buffy was far darker and more depressing than a dramadie about a funeral home ever could be. Personally for me Buffy hit the spot. It gave me what I was looking for. If a fine restaurant doesn't fill me up, I don't care how many food critics tell me I should enjoy it, next time I'll go to Taco Bell cuz I know what I'm gonna get, I know what it's gonna taste like & I know it's gonna fill me up. What is Nussbaum expecting from television? The Ritz? Face it: most viewers want Taco Bell.

Those who can't do, critique. I don't understand why any of us still listen to critics at all. With all that said, I've never seen Six Feet Under cuz I don't get cable, and therefore have no opinion whatsoever. Could be meat. Could be cake. I do have an opinion however about Slate critics who go against the grain of what the audience wants in order to sound superior. Critics should just explain what something is & what kind of audience might enjoy it, then step back and get out of our way!

Grrr! Argh!
Salon has to piss on anything that gets too popular. It's in their contract.

Six Feet Under is an amazing show. One of the best on television. I watch it, I watch Angel, I watch Buffy. My TiVo has a big hard drive.

Can't we all just get along?
for the brief time I had HBO, I thought Six Feet Under was great. it was head and shoulders over that sophmoric waste of a time slot, Sex in The City.

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