"Just like the prodigal son, I've returned." - House of Pain, Jump Around (Pete Rock Remix)
I've seen a few best of TV lists for the decade and they name all the right shows—The Wire, Chappelle's Show, Battlestar Galactica, The Daily Show, LOST, Buffy, Arrested Development, The Sopranos, etc.—but I haven't seen much talk of Six Feet Under, which, in my mind, is on par with The Wire as the best written, most impactful show ever.
I'm not going to dig into the nuances of the show other than to say that much like most of the TV I liked this decade, Six Feet Under had a multicultural cast full of well developed, well drawn characters whose purpose wasn't to highlight race or focus on racial issues but to reflect the reality of the worlds in which they existed. A funeral home in Pasadena, California run by a family that is fully engaged in Southern California isn't going to have to go in search of diversity. It lives where they live and those people of all hues and backgrounds would go to them to bury their loved ones. That's one of the trends I hope continues into the next decade: television shows where we all exist together and not just crashing into each other but collaborating, laughing, and loving. That's the world I live in.
Why I really love the show, though, is this: I have always been terribly afraid of my own mortality and the potential deaths of those around me. Halfway through this decade, a friend committed suicide and I didn't understand it. Couldn't wrap my head around it. That lack of clarity threatened to consume me but a scene from a television show gave me perspective. I've faced the death of loved ones since then and I always go back to the sentiment of the ghost of a dead father talking to his son about death and life.
The very dead Nate, Sr: You're missing the point.
David: There is no point. That's the point. Isn't it?
Nate, Sr: Don't give me this phony existential bullshit. I expect better from you. The point's right in front of your face.
David: Well, I'm sorry but I don't see it.
Nate, Sr: You're not even grateful are you?
David: Grateful? For the worst fucking experience of my life?
Nate, Sr: You hang on to your pain like it means something, like it's worth something. Well, let me tell you: it's not worth shit. Let it go. (Nate, Sr. looks toward the sky) Infinite possibilities and all he can do is whine.
David: And what am I supposed to do?
Nate, Sr: What do you think? You can do anything, you lucky bastard, you're alive! What's a little pain compared to that?
David: It can't be so simple.
Nate, Sr: What if it is?
Infinite possibilities simply because I'm alive and not six feet under. I dare you to find television that tells you something better than that.