Six Feet Under: When They Talk to the Dead

For those of you watch Six Feet Under – you might wonder what is going on in those scenes wherein someone in the Fisher family talks to a ghost around them.

The first thing to contemplate is that one of them, in nearly every episode, has a conversation with either the father or a dead person about to be given a service at the Fisher home. (Every episode has a newly dead spirit talking to one of the Fishers).

The way those scenes are filmed suggest that maybe the character is just day-dreaming. You’re not sure whether the character actually sees and hears the spirit. Most of the time they just snap out of it when someone is asking them, “are you listening to me??”.

But the writers sometimes take it a bit further — for example, in numerous episodes one of the family members hears another one talking out loud to a spirit. They usually knock on the door and say, “were you talking to someone?”.

These comments suggest (not to break it down too much) that the conversations are more real than we might otherwise think. This happens just often enough that it seems that the Fisher house has spiritual presence, which is (I think) an intended irony considering the Fishers are an emotionally detached family. They can speak to the dead, but they struggle to talk to each other.

But the dead play an enabling role. David (who is gay) talks to the spirit of a gay man who was the victim of a hate crime, which gives him the strength and drive to beat up homophobic Christian protesters and come out to his family.

Sometimes the writing seems sloppy and inconsistent. In an episode involving a clairvoyant, the Fisher brothers watch in disbelief as the woman talks to her dead husband. She asks them if they ever speak to the dead and they kind of laugh at her (maybe I am reading this wrong) as though she must be nuts.

Finally, I think that the writers intend that the Fishers do have dialogue with the dead, but they aren’t consciously aware.

I just read the Wikipedia page on the characters and noticed that the birth and death of each character was given – so I guess I have a lot more to learn about what is really going on.

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