Six Feet Under: The Complete Third Season (DVD)
(HBO Dramatic Series) Life. Death. Guilt. Afterlife. For the Fishers, the more things stay the same, the more they change. Get ready to break new emotional ground with Six Feet Under: The Complete Third Season.
No other show captures the ebb and flow of day-to-day human relationships like Six Feet Under, which chronicles the dysfunctional lives of the Fisher family, who run a funeral home in Los Angeles. Though the overt theme of the series is mortality--every episode opens with the death of someone whose body will end up on the Fishers' slab--but the third season, even moreso than the first two, explores the intertwining struggles for connection and for personal freedom. The season starts slowly but compellingly, laying out the changes in the Fishers' lives. Nate (Peter Krause, We Don't Live Here Anymore) has married and has a baby. David (Michael C. Hall) is settling into tense domesticity with his angry boyfriend. Claire (Lauren Ambrose) has launched into art school. Ruth (Frances Conroy), their mother, is reaching out for companionship from an emotionally stilted young intern, and Brenda (Rachel Griffiths, Hilary and Jackie), Nate's ex-fiancee, has apparently vanished from their lives.
But as storylines unfold across the 13 episodes, the emotional heft of the season comes from the expanded roles of the family's intimates. Federico (Freddy Rodriguez), who has leveraged his way into a partnership with the Fisher brothers, finds himself fighting to be treated as an equal at work and struggling with his wife's depression at home. Trying to sort out their relationship, David and Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) negotiate everything from therapy to threesomes. Meanwhile Lisa (Lili Taylor, I Shot Andy Warhol), Nate's unhappy wife, increasingly becomes the center of the season as her jealousy and need become unbearable. Though big events happen, the most jolting drama on Six Feet Under comes from small conflicts--miscommunications, crossed desires, habits that don't mesh. The cast, writers, and directors can, with breathtaking skill and subtlety, spin a brief conversation into a microcosm of the character's lives. By this third season, the show has taken on the richness and complexity of a great novel; it's an impressive and deeply enjoyable achievement. --Bret Fetzer