Raising the Dead

Six Feet Under resurrects the dysfunctional-family melodrama

The beginning of the end: Peter Krause and Freddy Rodriguez in Six Feet Under
The beginning of the end: Peter Krause and Freddy Rodriguez in Six Feet Under

Paradoxically, this show is entirely comfortable with discomfort. Painful dinners, fraught sibling relationships that inevitably drive someone to storm from the room--for Ball, they are always interesting, always worth following. And he uses the death of the week not merely as a sick gimmick, but as a way to prick each character's conscience. The gangbanger counsels Dave on pride and self-defense, the porn star on love. Even when it gives viewers the creeps, Six Feet Under repays their attention: It digs vitally into the most human of survival tactics, documenting how often, and how justly, we need to whistle past the graveyard to keep ourselves motoring through the day.

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