Monday, May 5, 2014

Everything. Everyone. Everywhere. Ends.

The tile of this blog post is the tagline used for the final season of Six Feet Under. Fair warning, spoilers for the show are about to happen, so if you haven't seen it and you want to, stop reading.

My HS economics teacher suggested I be a mortician. Seriously.
I've said it before, the finale for this series was the best finale to any show I've ever seen. Nothing has come close to topping it, not even my beloved Breaking Bad, good as that finale was. I've been trying to figure out why that last episode did so much for me, and I think I finally figured it out.

The show was about death. It was about funeral homes and how the little businesses stacked up against the big, corporate ones. It was about family. But mostly, it was about death. Every episode opened with somebody dying. There were old people dying of, well, old age, people dying in accidents, kids dying, spouses dying, parents dying. It was right there, in your face.

At some point in the last century or so, it became rather taboo to talk about death. I've seen people avoid the topic, or refuse to attend funerals. They might do the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and saying, "Lalalalalala, can't hear you!" Not so long ago, people talked about death more openly. When somebody died, they were laid out in their home for the viewing. In Victorian times, people died young, and often. There was no avoiding the topic. But now we go to funeral homes to view the deceased. People live longer, and so they might put off thinking about the inevitable. It's a topic that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

Shows like Six Feet Under are bringing death to the forefront, though, and perhaps encouraging people to think a little more about their deaths. So what is it about that show's ending that made such an impression on me? Well, almost every other series finale ends with the main characters still going about their lives in some way. But in Six Feet Under, we get to see snippets of how the rest of their lives played out, and how they died. Every single character's death is shown, all while Sia's "Breathe Me" played in the background. Incidentally, if you haven't heard this song, it's great. But there was no question about what happened to any of the characters. We saw them all die. It was such an intimate moment, and moving, and terribly sad, and completely satisfying. Holy cow, I'm sort of tearing up writing this. Yes, the ending was that good.

I'm not saying that every show needs to do this. But for this series, it was perfect. Everything. Everyone. Everywhere. Ended.

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