I watched the final episode of Six Feet Under again last night. This is the second time I’ve gone through the entire series start-to-finish. I’m not one to cry very often from movies/TV shows (I can pretty much count the times: I cried once during Buffy the Vampire Slayer and twice during Friday Night Lights). But both times now I’ve completely lost it during the final scene of Six Feet Under (the final episode is titled “Everyone’s Waiting”).
Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched this episode, I wouldn’t continue reading…
This is the scene I’m talking about:
I’m not sure what it is exactly about the scene that totally melts me down. Chances are there are so many small reasons they just add up and overwhelm me. I don’t think it’s because we see beloved characters die. I handled the deaths of Lisa and Nate fine. And in a show like Six Feet Under, you sort of have to expect it to end with death.
After some thought, I think there are two main reasons I find the finale so tear-worthy.
First, in a somewhat meta sense, it’s really sad that the show is over. It’s not just the sadness of the death of the characters, but also the sadness of the “death” of Six Feet Under. I often experience this after I finish watching an entire series — I miss the characters, I miss watching the show. In a way shows become our friends and when they are over, it’s like they are dead.
But that doesn’t entirely explain what makes the Six Feet Under finale so distinctive. What touches me the most about it is how happy everyone is. Last night I started losing it during the first “flash forward” showing Ruth and Betina overseeing their dog sanctuary. Ruth was so happy. Then we see Willa’s or Maya’s birthday party and everyone is so happy. And we see David watching his family play football and he sees Keith and he’s so happy.
So I think it’s a combination of the my genuine sadness that the show is over and empathizing with the genuine joy of the characters. And, of course, the song — Sia’s “Breathe Me” is haunting and to this day I tear up every time I hear it (however I’m skeptical that Ted [who made Claire the mix CD that she’s listening to] would know such a great song).
Of all the finales of all the shows I’ve watched, nothing is as special as Six Feet Under. And I look forward to watching the entire series again in a few years and crying just as hard at the end — I doubt that’ll ever change no matter how many times I watch it (and yes, I even cried watching the YouTube clip above — so even without context it’s just as amazing).