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Six Feet Under’ one of HBO’s best

Scott Fonferko | Tuesday, September 2, 2003

The hit network of HBO has many great television shows on the air. The Sopranos, Sex and the City and Band of Brothers are a few of them.

Six Feet Under, entering its fifth season, is one of the most critically acclaimed shows that appears on HBO. The show has won numerous awards, including six Emmy Awards in 2002. This season, Six Feet Under topped the Emmy nominations list with 16. Its nominations range from outstanding lead actor and actress in a drama series to outstanding director and outstanding writer for a drama series.

Six Feet Under was co-written and executive produced by Alan Ball, who wrote the screenplay for American Beauty. The cast of Six Feet Under consists of Sportsnight star Peter Krause as Nate Fisher. His brother David, played by Michael Hall, takes over the family business after their father’s funeral. Lauren Ambrose, who is up for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series, plays Nathaniel’s daughter Claire. Actress Frances Conroy plays Nathaniel Fisher’s widow, Ruth, and Brenda Chenowith, Nate’s girlfriend, is portrayed by Emmy nominated actress Rachel Griffiths. Freddy Rodriguez plays the restorative artist Frederico Diaz.

The show is about a family-owned funeral home, run by Nathaniel and David Fisher. It explores a wide range of social issues, from drug problems to homosexuality to unwed parents. Ambrose’s character, for example, stands as an archetypical example of a troubled teenager who turns to substance abuse and sex as an escape. High on crack cocaine when she receives the phone call notifying her of her father’s death, Claire Fisher is an undeniable outcast, going so far as to drive a hearse to school. The show tries to give solutions to such social problems, however; the character evolves into a more well-rounded individual as the show proceeds. The teenager realizes that drugs and hardcore partying are not adequate solutions, and she turns to a friend for comfort and companionship.

And Claire Fisher is only one of the many characters that function as a vehicle for exploration of social issues. Homosexuality appears in the characters of David Fisher and his partner Keith Charles, and their relationship highlights the difficulties of living as gay individuals in modern society. The men display embarrassment and outrage, especially when faced with telling the truth to family members. At a time when gay culture is often exploited on television, Six Feet Under tries to examine the topic from different angles.

This show is written and directed extremely well. It goes through most of the trials and tribulations that most people deal with in their lives and provides a visible aspect of the things people go through but don’t talk about. It is an emotional masterpiece. These are the reasons why regular viewers, as well as critics, are drawn to the show on a regular basis. The complete first season of Six Feet Under can be purchased on VHS or DVD at local stores.

Band of Brothers, a 10-episode mini-series, is also a critically acclaimed show that appeared on HBO. Inspired by a true story, it is based on the 101st Airborne division during World War II. Directed by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, Band of Brothers is an in-depth, true-to-life view of Easy Company and their missions and tasks throughout the war.

The show begins with scenes from the soldiers’ training in Georgia in 1942 and follows their exploits through D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, and up until the show’s ending – the capture of Hitler’s last resort at Berchtesgaden. The show deals with emotions of the soldiers, particularly when their friends are killed and then replaced. It also provides a sensitive glimpse into the emotional, physical and mental difficulties soldiers must face when they fight and have to come to terms with warfare. Band of Brothers, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen Ambrose, is highly recommended. This mini-series can be picked up at most stores on either VHS or DVD.