Lordy, Lordy, Nate Turns Forty (and Alan Ball Can Bite Me)

So it's time to take out your Fonzie trapper keeper, open up the entry that says "Six Feet Under," and write down in the blank space next to Shark Jumped On: "6/27/2005, Nate Turns Forty."

Last night's show pretty much sucked ass. The worst part is it sucked ass in a lame, rote, predictable, safe, cruise-control kind of way, rather than a holy shit I can't watch this kind of way (such as last season's David Gets Abducted episode).

Nate turned forty, argued with Brenda about a new pregnancy, had a party with a lot of plot development, if not a lot of interesting plot development (you know the kind of party people have on TV dramas, the ones where each subplot gets gently nudged forward throughout the course of the party, where people sit in twos and Work Through Issues or at least Advance the Plot, kind of like Sixteen Candles without the Donger or American Pie without Stiffler), fought with Brenda, fought with Billy, and then fought with an embarrassingly obvious Bird Who Flew in Through the Window/Omen of Death.

Yeah, a bird flew into the house. Three times. It wasn't shocking or spooky or even interesting. It was just lazy, the kind of thing that would get edited out of a sophomore creative writing workshop in about five minutes.

The most interesting person on the show is now Nate's chubby, drunk high school buddy, who is kind of like a beer-addled, forty-ish Stiffler who has given up on everything except getting more beer and eying up his daughter's teenage friends. Everybody else is on cruise control, even Scruffy Crazy Billy, whose arc into medication-deprived crazy-ass depression was as predictable and lame as the fact that last night even pictured Nate thumbing through an old scrapbook in the family living room, as well as an enlightening talk with Dear Old Dead Dad.

Full disclosure: I'm closer to forty than thirty, by far the oldest of the Barrelhouse crew. I have tendinitis in my achilles and hair has started to show up in my ears with disturbing, weed-like regularity. Nate's descent into American Beauty territory has no doubt kicked off some kind of That's Not Me detector/force field, the same thing that allows me to see gray hair in my beard and not get freaked out, the same thing that keeps me listening to hip hop and actually following TV shows that are shown on networks other than the History or Weather Channel.

Make no mistake, it does suck watching this show about how much its going to suck getting older, but I dont think that's the essential thing that bothers me about the show this season. I think the thing I'm offended by is the laziness. We've been on this ride for a long time and now its starting to look like the payoff is not coming. Anybody who stuck around for the second season of Twin Peaks is getting a familiar prick in the back of their neck right now.

Maybe Alan Ball is one of those guys with only one story to tell, and he strung us along for so many seasons of Six Feet Under, disguising the American Beauty just beneath the surface, with fancy tricks like dead people talking, crazy psychiatrists, and Lauren Ambrose. Or maybe I'm just getting old and cranky, and that bird thing wasn't as cheap-ass as it seemed to be. Nate did kill it in the end. Although that would probably get edited out of the sophomore writing workshop, too. Are you kidding, they'd say, he kills the Omen of Death? And then goes off to another day at the Funeral Parlor?

Nah, I'm not buying it either. I believe the Fonz has landed safely, and is giving us the famous Thumbs Up, people.


Mike said...

This season has been sort of disappointing. Is it bad when Rico is suddenly the most interesting character (next to the drunken friend, of course -- that guy really is great).

I read an interview with Alan Ball where he said he really wanted it to end after four seasons, but HBO pushed them into doing five. So maybe they're just running out of material.

aaron said...

I have never gotten Six Feet Under. I watched it once and said to myself: Too much drama...not melo-drama, not meta-drama, but drama-drama-drama (said really fast with a Valley Girl lilt and head tilt). When every character is nigh unto hysterical, and you have to take them seriously, well, Annie, go get me my gun.

So does the show still start with someone dying? Because that idea is pretty original...just like every episode of Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Blaw and Boredom, etc.

joe said...

Why does every TV character coming off meds grow a beard? When you stop taking anti-depressants do you lose the ability to shave as well as regulate your emotions?