The second series of the brilliant US comedy-drama Six Feet Under has just started on Channel 4. Created by Alan Ball, the Oscar-winning writer of American Beauty, the show revolves around the life of a family, the Fishers, and the funeral home they run.
Their 'American dream' – a happy, stable family, owning and running their own business – fell apart in the first series. Now we see how they are coming to terms with the new problems life throws at them. After the death of her husband, Ruth, the mother of the family, has discovered a new side of her life away from being a wife and mother. Throughout the new series she tries to 'find herself' in various, often hilarious, ways.
David, the eldest brother, having come out as gay to his family, is now confronting the difficult world of relationships. He is also trying to reconcile his sexuality with his position as a deacon at his conservative church.
Nate, his brother, has discovered he has a possibly fatal brain condition. He agonises about telling his family and his partner, Brenda, and about whether to have the extremely risky treatment he needs. Claire, their teenage sister, is struggling with school and relationships, and trying to work out what she wants to do with her life.
Her character is a million miles away from the precocious Dawson's Creek brats who normally represent teen angst on TV. The Fishers' funeral home is still doing battle with Kroehner's, a huge funeral corporation that wants to take them over.
Every one of the characters is complex, and their reactions as they are forced into situations beyond their control are human and believable. Six Feet Under is one of the best written and best acted shows on television. Don't miss it.
Six Feet Under
Sundays, 10pm, Channel 4, repeated Saturdays, 10pm, E4