November 6, 2009

Compelled

C and I started watching 6 Feet Under a while ago, and we raced through the first two seasons. What did that mean? What will she do? Why don't the people in this show ever just talk to each other? There isn't a clear narrator or protagonist among the characters; they're all partly understandable and partly awful, obviously still growing and still lost in some aspects. The characters seem like real people, albeit real people you don't want to be. (Aside: apparently this device works well on me. I like reading Margaret Atwood, but I can't think of a character in any of her books I've read that I'd want to be.) There were four seasons of the show on itunes, so we figured that the end of season 4, which is dark and unresolved and uncomfortable, though perfectly executed, was the end of the show.

But it wasn't! The last season is for whatever reason not available on itunes, but I got a copy while on a work trip to the States, and it is depressing. Grindingly hopeless. I feel reluctant to watch more episodes because the characters all feel so doomed. If the show turned around at this point and headed for a happy ending, it would feel dishonest, but I am so disappointed that characters who started out on such hopeful trajectories have gone into these short-sighted self-absorbed spirals. The characters who have made progress from their neurotic beginnings feel like they're in a holding pattern right now, too - one, being stuck with a big, rash, decision she made, is resentfully right back where she started, and the other, though he is immeasurably more honest and happy than ever before, is still under a cloud of tension and uncertainty. Effective storytelling, because these aren't real people, but I feel so invested in their fictional lives.

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