The Good Funeral Awards

You’re Alive!

15 March, 2011

The best drama can teach you how to live, and this scene featuring David and his father, Nathaniel, for me, distils the spirit of Six Feet Under. It needs to be put into context.

David had suffered a horrific attack from a thug he picked up as a hitchhiker. He endured a day of torture at his hands, he was beaten about the head and had a gun shoved in his mouth. It was a harrowing episode. It was made even more painful for David because his initial impulse to pick up the hitchhiker was lust.

We’ve been watching David go through post-traumatic stress and he re-experiences the horror at critical moments for the rest of the series.

As a way of dealing with his anger and pain, David makes an appointment to visit his attacker in prison, hoping for some kind of closure, or signs of remorse or insight into why his attacker behaved as he did. He doesn’t get it. He’s just taunted further. So we’re left with a situation like a gaping wound.

Then at the end of series 4 we have this odd scene. David wakes up and sees his dead father at the window. Six Feet Under resurrects the dead characters as a symbol of what’s going on in the consciousness of the living ones. The mood is melancholic, but there’s a sweetness in the rain. The gestures between father and son are subtle. The questioning puts David on the spot, as a parent does. What’s said is not trite, it manages to be deeply moving. And the episode ends, however, absurdly, with a sense of hope and renewal. Whatever suffering you have to endure, if you’re still alive, there is still life to be lived.

I often find myself muttering ‘Infinite possibilities and all he can do is whine’ when I’m feeling overwhelmed or self-pitying.