Six Feet Under: The First Season

Bomb Rating: 

If "free love" was the catch-all phrase for the '60s, the "Me Generation" the catch-all of the '70s and whatever-whatever for the '80s and '90s, "Dysfunction Junction" must be a potential nominee for the current zeitgeist, which pretty much means that everybody who has turned on the television for the more than three seconds in the last year is sick and tired of being inundated with television families with ever-increasing amounts of angst.

The Fishers have dutifully climbed the top of the current dysfunction mountain in HBO's "Six Feet Under." This is a television series that follows a family of morticians after their patriarch (Richard Jenkins) is killed in a car accident. In the pilot, Nate (Peter Krause) returns from Seattle to visit L.A. and is shocked into the family business with dad's departure. David (Michael C. Hall), the closeted homosexual brother who's stayed behind to learn the family business, resents his brother for leaving and resents himself for being ashamed of his sexuality. Ruth (Frances Conroy) is the mother who reveals her infidelity and goes about trying to live the life she didn't live while she was married -- or at least, trying to. Claire (Lauren Ambrose) is the younger sister who's a generation removed from Nate and David and feels like the family outcast. Overall psychological assessment: The Fisher clan is messed up.

Of course, this all comes from growing up in a home where dead bodies sit in the basement and funerals are performed almost every day. However, even more screwed up are the various people the Fishers seem to meet. So I guess the point of the show is this: No matter how totally f-ed your family might be, there's always a family right around the corner that's a little more screwed up. Frankly, I can't believe that Nate would get involved with somebody as whacked as Brenda (Rachel Griffiths) and actually hang around for more than five minutes. Brenda's relationship with her brother Billy (Jeremy Sisto) is so massively disturbing it defies description.

A few things that really annoy me: It's so damn obvious that Nate and David need to take Federico (Freddy Rodriguez) on as a partner, but they don't even discuss it; the opening is starting to remind me of "Final Destination" รถ in each episode they find some clever way for people to die; has anybody heard of therapy in this show? I'm not a huge proponent of therapy (as most psychiatrists aren't more knowledgeable than the people they treat), but man, could the Fishers use some.

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