Six Feet Under (2001-2005): A Moe’s TV Guide Classic TV review

Six Feet Under Poster

Of all the television shows I have managed to watch in their entirety, only a few still powerfully resonate with me. These shows either had a couple of actors I enjoyed watching, or a writing team highly capable of developing the show's characters and shape events in an exciting and engrossing way, or have a distinctive visual style that gives the show a gorgeous look. However, it is incredibly rare to find a show that is able to combine all of these characteristics to deliver a television show unlike any other. Six Feet Under is one of those rare gems.

Six Feet Under is an HBO show that ran from 2001 to 2005. It is created by Alan Ball (director of the great film American Beauty) and deals with a dysfunctional family, the Fishers, who own and run a funeral home. It deftly mixes drama and comedy and has an overall look and atmosphere unlike any other television show you will encounter.

Nate Fisher Peter Krause Six Feet Under

It must be said that Six Feet Under is truly blessed with one of the strongest acting ensembles in television history and includes Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Lauren Ambrose, Frances Conroy, and Rachel Griffiths, just to name a few. They all provide outstanding acting displays that collectively make Six Feet Under the television classic it is.

The first acting talent in Six Feet Under I would like to start with is Peter Krause, who plays lead character Nate Fisher. Krause is simply flawless in his depiction of Nate. Being the oldest sibling in the family, Nate is instantly seen as the family's leader following a family tragedy that leaves them all reeling. I love how Krause plays this role as we watch how much his character develops throughout the show's five seasons. Nate is a lost soul who has been looking for his calling in the world throughout his adult life. Working at his family's funeral home, however, Nate soon discovers that there is much more to life than what he first believed. Krause gives his all in this role and, in my opinion, plays one of TV's most confused and beloved characters. An acting masterclass.

Michael C Hall David Fisher Six Feet Under

Not to be outdone by Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall also gives an outstanding performance as Nate's brother, David Fisher. Latter to be known around the world as the ruthless but loved killer in Showtime's Dexter, Michael C. Hall provides early evidence of being a talented actor in Six Feet Under. David is a shy, introverted and polite person who is struggling to come to terms with his true identity. Again, same as with Krause, I continue to be quite impressed with how Hall is able to let us feel all the angst and frustrations that David goes through effortlessly. His work in Six Feet Under remains the highest in his career to date, in my opinion. He is quite the talented actor.

Claire Fisher Lauren Ambrose Six Feet Under

When discussing the acting talent in Six Feet Under, one cannot forget Lauren Ambrose's great work as Claire Fisher, Nate and David's younger sister. Being the youngest, Claire seems to have always felt the need to act and grow older than her age. She strives to find her place in the world and goes through a lot of horrific moments until she finally reaches her goal. Watching how Ambrose plays Claire is a true joy that I do not think I will ever get bored of.

Frances Conroy Ruth Fisher Six Feet Under

Playing the crucial role of Ruth Fisher, the mother of Nate, David and Claire, is the incomparable Frances Conroy. To say that Conroy gives her all in this performance is an understatement. She is simply amazing in Six Feet Under and grabs the viewer's attention in every single scene she is in, which is a fantastic achievement given the acting talents she is surrounded with. Ruth has this obsessive need to be loved by everyone around her, even if that means not getting what she deserves. She becomes overcome with this need to that point that it nearly destroys her relationships with those dearest to her. Frances Conroy keeps her performance very realistic, making her role one of the best parts about Six Feet Under.

Rachel Griffiths Brenda Chenowith Six Feet Under

I also would like to note the excellent effort provided by Rachel Griffiths as the eccentric and chaotic Brenda. As a person who stumbles into the lives of the Fishers, Brenda soon becomes an integral part of the family, a feeling she never had with her own. Griffiths is so good in Six Feet Under that her presence gives me an immense joy whenever she is on screen. She knows how to play her troubled character with such ease and rawness that makes one simply astonished by her acting abilities. She is yet another actor who gives Six Feet Under its well-deserved status as one of television's greatest shows.

Six Feet Under is one of my all-time favorite shows largely thanks to Alan Ball and his vision. The way he goes about with the show's overall look is something I greatly admire. His writing and that of his team has these dark comedy elements to them that make the dialogue very engaging and thought-provoking.

Anyone who has watched the show will surely love the decision Ball has taken to start each episode in such a creative way that always feels fresh and gripping. Suffice to say, Alan Ball, with each passing episode, reaffirms the fact that he is a truly talented artist. Six Feet Under is testament to that.

A special note should be made about the series's unbelievable finale. I still remember watching that episode for the first time and how I was completely blown away by it. Alan Ball was able to craft an ending to his show that does justice to all his characters whilst keeping the heart and soul of his show intact. Everyone who watches that ending will surely be astounded by how amazing and fulfilling it really is.

Six Feet Under Cast

There has not been a TV show that has affected the same way Six Feet Under has. The way it weaves powerful drama with dark comedy makes it a very unique TV show, in my eyes. With an acting ensemble that gives off one of television's most mesmerizing and gripping performances, Six Feet Under is a show that I cannot help but return to every so often. I continue to miss the show's characters. Their stories. Their struggles. Their triumphs. The journey that Six Feet Under takes the viewer on is one that everyone should experience. It is truly an enduring classic.

Six Feet Under The End


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Alan Ball




  • Peter Krause (as Nate Fisher)
  • Michael C. Hall (as David Fisher)
  • Frances Conroy (as Ruth Fisher)
  • Lauren Ambrose (as Claire Fisher)
  • Rachel Griffiths (as Brenda Chenowith)
  • Mathew St. Patrick (as Keith Charles)
  • Freddy Rodriguez (as Federico Diaz)

Favorite Episodes: (Spoiler Alert!)

  • Life's Too Short (Season 1, Episode 9)
    • Synopsis: Claire runs into Gabe again, but not under the best circumstances. His brother died and his mother and he have come to Fisher & Sons for the services. Brenda and Nate visit several different local funeral homes posing as mourning relatives in order to help Nate improve upon his salesmanship.
  • The Last Time (Season 2, Episode 13)
    • Synopsis: Nate is not feeling well, emotionally and physically. Something is going on inside him. Keith's work situation changes, and this creates some extra problems between him and David. Federico makes the Fisher's an offer they cannot refuse. Claire graduates from High School.
  • Death Works Overtime (Season 3, Episode 11)
    • Synopsis: Nate is still trying to find Lisa. He makes calls frantically to everyone he knows. Lisa's car is found near a beach, and Nate nearby in hopes of finding something out. The funeral home gets a number of cases, and needs all the help they can get. Arthur tries to learn how to interact with the funeral home's customers. Federico is having added issues now that Vanessa's sister lives with them, but has to go into work despite that due to the influx of deaths. Vanessa and her sister go shopping and come home with a big screen television and a fridge, and refuse to take them back. Brenda finds a new place of her own in a questionable neighborhood. She has few belongings and moves in quickly. Brenda's mother asks her to join her and Billy to scatter their father's ashes. Brenda reluctantly agrees. When they do get together to scatter the ashes they argue, of course, and end up throwing them over an apartment balcony. Russell shows up at the Fisher's to apologize once again to Claire. However, she rejects his continued advances. Claire has a review with Olivier, and they end up getting into a very heated argument. Later, Claire takes a pregnancy test, and it's positive. After one of the funerals, Ruth meets a new man, George Sibley, and proceeds to cry all over him.
  • Falling Into Place (Season 4, Episode 1)
    • Synopsis: Nate is having a difficult time with Lisa's death. The guilt that he feels is overshadowed by the arrival of Lisa's family. Nate and Lisa's mother end up in a fight over what Lisa wanted for her passing. Lisa told Nate that when she died she wanted to be buried directly in the ground with nothing in between her and the earth that created her. Her mother, however, wants her cremated and placed in the family mausoleum. Eventually, Nate finds a way for everyone to get their way. Brenda seems to be showing interest in her neighbor after he brings her dinner one night. Keith stays over at the Fisher's with David after Ruth's wedding, which sparks a discussion on what the two want in a relationship with each other. Vanessa finally tells her sister she thinks it's time for her to find her own place. Claire is trying to find a new way of seeing things to enhance her art. Russell attends Lisa's funeral, and Claire ends up spilling the news about her abortion. She is taken aback by Russell's reaction.
  • Ecotone (Season 5, Episode 9)
    • Synopsis: David and Keith begin to feel comfortable in their roles as parents to Durrell and Anthony. Claire shares a common interest with co-worker Ted. Brenda faces common truths. Federico finally understands Vanessa. Feeling liberated after leaving George, Ruth goes camping with Hiram. Nate is checked into the hospital, while the rest of the family (except for Ruth, who is unreachable) waits to hear news from the doctors. Nate enters a brief coma after an operation to repair the damage from his AVM. He appears to be on the path to recovery when he suddenly dies, with only David by his side.
  • All Alone (Season 5, Episode 10)
    • Synopsis: David makes arrangements for Nate's funeral with Ruth and Brenda. Keith makes a humiliating discovery. Brenda must answer a difficult question for Nate's daughter, Maya. Claire reminisces on the past.
  • Everyone's Waiting (Season 5, Episode 12)
    • Synopsis: The drama about a Los Angeles funeral home meets its maker after five compelling seasons. Three weeks ago, Nate Fisher Jr.'s death ended speculation about which of the show's major characters would die. But in the hands of creator Alan Ball, who wrote and directed this episode, you can bet the finale will be anything but anticlimactic. One issue certain to be resolved involves the health of Nate's unborn child, since tonight, Brenda goes into labor. While the last two seasons have been downbeat, the writing has remained original, the acting terrific. Like Nate, the series will be missed.

Emmy Awards Won:

  • 2002
    • Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series: Alan Ball for “Pilot”
    • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Patricia Clarkson as “Sarah O'Connor”
    • Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series: Junie Lowry-Johnson & Libby Goldstein & Julie Tucker
    • Outstanding Main Title Theme Music: Thomas Newman
    • Outstanding Main Title Design: Marcia Hinds & Thomas T. Taylor & Susan Mina Eschelbach
    • Outstanding Makeup for a Series (Prosthetic): Dan Rebert & Thomas Floutz & Lee Romaire & Todd Masters & Scott Tebeau & Donna-Lou Henderson & Justin B. Henderson & Kylie Bell for “A Private Life”
  • 2003
    • Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series: Junie Lowry-Johnson & Libby Goldstein & Julie Tucker
  • 2006
    • Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special: Matthew W. Mungle & Michelle Vittone & John E. Jackson & Clinton Wayne
    • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Patricia Clarkson as “Sarah O'Connor”

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