Six Feet Under: Pilot
May 11, 2019 8:08 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

On Christmas Eve, Nathaniel Fisher Sr. is on the way to the airport to pick up his son Nate, when tragedy strikes in the form of a city bus.

Over the next several days Ruth, Nate, David and Claire Fisher struggle to cope with their grief with the help of Rico, a skilled and proud Fisher & Sons employee; Brenda, a woman Nate met on the plane and connected with in a broom closet; Gabe, a friend of Claire's who helped her alter her perception of reality; Keith, David's purported racquetball partner, and the spectre of Nathaniel Sr., who insists on hanging around. Lest all this grief get too intense, we're treated to a number of commercial breaks, which extol the sensual appeal of various funeral industry products.
posted by orange swan (16 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man - that bus crash scene! I'd like to re-watch this and see how it still stand up. Pretty well I suspect.
posted by rongorongo at 2:44 AM on May 12, 2019

I had seen a few episodes on first-run before tackling it from the beginning just a few years ago, and the bus definitely worked on me.
posted by rhizome at 4:10 PM on May 12, 2019

I remember watching this, wondering just how I would be able to hang out with all these sad, sad people for any length of time. And then, about 3 episodes in, I realized I was entirely hooked. A great show.
posted by xingcat at 10:12 AM on May 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

I watched the first season and found it relatively entertaining. Absolutely loved Freddy Rodriguez. The best part of the show for me was the theme/intro music.
posted by davidmsc at 10:58 AM on May 13, 2019

I rewatched this series with my wife (she had not seen yet, I had not seen it since it originally aired 15+ years ago). It holds up well!
posted by bl1nk at 4:02 PM on May 13, 2019

I recently re-watched most of it. The first time, I didn't think I'd be sticking with it until about the middle of the first season. I can't decide if it took several episodes to find its footing or it took me that long to figure out what it was about. Whichever the case may be, I think it really has held up.
posted by BibiRose at 4:08 PM on May 13, 2019

When I first saw this show, I was in my twenties and had a thing for Nate. Re-watching the pilot I thought, uh oh, now that I'm 45 and very much past falling for a pretty face when it's nothing but a front for vapid, self-centred nonsense, he's just going to annoy the living shit out of me. The doofus was standing by his father's grave yelling *to people who live in and operate a funeral home* about how death gets sanitized and he's too real and authentic or whatever to countenance it. Oh right, because those who deal with dead bodies and grief-stricken people every day of their lives while you're stocking organic produce in Seattle really need you to remind them what reality is, Nate. Also Nate... Brenda? Red flag city from the beginning. Not that you heeded them.

Otherwise I'm looking forward to this rewatch, especially David's arc -- he grows the most of all of them. Nate never learned a damn thing.
posted by orange swan at 8:46 PM on May 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the first time I saw the series, I was in my mid twenties and identified very heavily with Nate. Now it's Ruth's search for meaning and her next chapter that was hitting me in the feels, and I just felt like Nate was even more annoying than I remembered. But watching it all over and knowing how it's all going to turn out, the journey I found most compelling was Claire's.
posted by bl1nk at 3:48 PM on May 14, 2019

I haven't watched this since its initial run, which IIRC was in The Sopranos time slot during its offseason?

I'm excited about David's arc; I'm not sure I was old enough to appreciate it at the time. I most closely identified with Claire, I guess, based on her age. The same way I identified with Meadow Soprano, I suppose. Even though she was awful, she was in high school like me.

I'll also say, I've seen so many of these actors in roles since then. It was a long time before I saw them as anything but Nate, David, and Ruth. Now, I see Dexter front and center, ha. So that's a shift.
posted by terilou at 7:09 PM on May 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

I haven't watched it since the official run either - and even then I think I only made it through the first few seasons.

I was in high school, and most of my memories of it are tied up in my best friend (whose family ran a funeral home) ranting about the stuff they got wrong and some excitement when location scouts approached her aunt about using exteriors of their place for a possible rival funeral home. It was still one of her favorite shows - I should email her and see if she wants to join in on the rewatch.

Having now rewatched the pilot, I remember being a lot more sympathetic to Nate than I am now, and less sympathetic to Claire. She's the worst, but at least she's a kid and the worst (plus, her little smile when she figures out David and Keith is cute). Nate's still older than I am! He should at least get his little sister some water when she says she's tweaking. And yes, some very early obvious warning signs about Brenda, too, but Nate's so horrible that I can't be surprised that he didn't even notice.

Rico is still the best.

I'd also forgotten how religious this show was.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:00 PM on May 14, 2019

I recently re-watched most of it. The first time, I didn't think I'd be sticking with it until about the middle of the first season. I can't decide if it took several episodes to find its footing or it took me that long to figure out what it was about. Whichever the case may be, I think it really has held up.

I started it a few years ago but never made it past a few episodes. Based on these comments, I'm going to give it another try.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:49 AM on May 15, 2019

Having now rewatched the pilot, I remember being a lot more sympathetic to Nate than I am now

This is pretty much how I feel about Nate. I liked him back then, I'm pretty sure (and I generally like Peter Krause, but I'm pretty sure this was the first thing of his I really watched). Nate is awful, though. Obviously, I'm the one who has changed.
posted by terilou at 9:27 AM on May 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I, too, remember thinking it was unlikely I'd enjoy a show that was so much about death, but I ended up loving it. Ruth and Claire are my favourite characters as I look back on it now, but I do remember they grew on me as opposed to me liking them immediately.

So many excellent women and non-binary folks involved in writing and directing, too: Jill Soloway, Lisa Cholodenko, Rose Troche, Kathy Bates, Nicole Holofcener, Mary Herron.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:19 PM on May 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nate is awful, though. Obviously, I'm the one who has changed.

This show and movies such as Wedding Crashers and About a Boy are litmus tests for me. I remember very clearly finding Nate so attractive and thinking Wedding Crashers (which I saw at 31) and About a Boy (which I saw at 29) were hilarious, and now watching them I am all, "What is this shit? Why did I not see what a clueless manchild Nate is? How did I ever find men lying to women to get what they want from them funny?" It amazes me to realize how much my worldview has changed even in the past five years.
posted by orange swan at 3:10 PM on May 16, 2019 [6 favorites]

This show was total catnip when I rented and watched it in the late oughts! I'd worked in a funeral home, have a cocksure older brother, had been a bratty/arty little sister, had lived with a mother of Ruth's generation who throughout my growing-up was angry and repressed, and had worked in the '90s with lesbian and gay male activists. Also - grew up in L.A.!

It took me a while to realize I just didn't like Nate. Took a little while longer to see how Claire was sometimes a straight-up asshole - but of course she is, she's so young. Upon rewatching this spring (am currently on season 5) Ruth's journey really resonates. She makes such wrong choices, but that makes sense - what choices did she get to make between marrying Nathaniel and his death? That was nearly thirty years of her life!

The people I related to most were dear David - though I really didn't understand how he could be so closeted - and Brenda. Fucked-up, Gen X Brenda, whose horrible childhood makes her distrust her reality and herself. That oversexualized/over-analyzed bringing-up wasn't so different from mine in the '70s, and oh boy, can it lead to self-sabotage.
posted by goofyfoot at 9:51 AM on May 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nathaniel's obituary:

Nathaniel Fisher Sr. (1943-2000)

Born on June 9, 1943 in Los Angeles. Operated the Fisher & Sons funeral home for 34 years, a family business his father established in 1944.

Nathaniel graduated from the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science in 1964, then served as a medic in Vietnam from 1965 - 1969. He was a member of the Rotary Club for 12 years and served as a deacon at the All Souls Episcopal Church for 10 years.

Nathaniel passed away December 24th, 2000. He is survived by his loving wife Ruth, his sons Nathaniel Jr. and David, and his daughter Claire. Viewing on Tuesday, December 26th at 2 p.m. at Fisher & Sons. A private burial to follow at Fairhaven Memorial Park.
posted by orange swan at 6:15 PM on July 20, 2019

« Older Doom Patrol: Flex Patrol...   |  Lucifer: Devil Is as Devil Doe... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments