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Six Feet Under stars pick favorite episodes for 15th anniversary

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HBO

Six Feet Under, HBO’s iconic funeral-home-set drama, turned 15 on June 3. To celebrate its life — and, of course, death — the cast and creator look back on their favorite episodes in its five-year run.

1. Frances Conroy (Ruth Fisher)

“Life’s Too Short,” Season 1, Ep. 9

“Ruth was sort of frozen — she was a punching bag. If you think of people who are the principal caregivers, they become nonentities. It’s hard to get away from caregiving. This episode is gorgeous. Ruth ends up taking Ecstasy by mistake. She runs through the woods happily and doesn’t know what she’s happy about — just that she’s released from this terrible burden. My husband reminded me that my hair was down for that [scene], running through the woods. They had my hair up for three years to make me look older. That was something that always bothered me…. But oh, so many simple scenes were brilliantly loaded with anxiety and angst and conflict.”

2. Peter Krause (Nate Fisher)

“Falling Into Place,” Season 4, Ep. 1

“We were at the peak of our powers. We didn’t know at the time that season 5 was going to be our last. So to me it felt like we were at the crest of the series. There was an awful lot of violence in that episode and elements of loneliness that played throughout, but people were together. David [Michael C. Hall] and Keith [Mathew St. Patrick] get back together. Nate goes to Brenda [Rachel Griffiths]. Brenda is with Joe [Justin Theroux]. The last scene, where Nate buries Lisa [Lili Taylor], was difficult to shoot. There was something so sweet about their relationship as they went through this existential angst. That episode felt beautiful from the top to the bottom.”

3. Michael C. Hall (David Fisher)

“Ecotone,” Season 5, Ep. 9

“We were coming to the end of the show and it was a chance for us to be together, albeit to simulate a very sad situation. Just to revisit the collective dynamic and the family as they evolve…there was something really magical about what the writers came up with. David is left alone with Nate. He turns on the TV, there are shots of birds flying. He falls asleep, and Nate’s dream morphs into David’s dream. David wakes up to discover that Nate has died. It was very beautiful and incredibly sad. The way that episode ended was pivotal in terms of what launched the show’s final three episodes. It was the last little breath before we hurtled to the end. I remember it fondly.”

4. Lauren Ambrose (Claire Fisher)

“Static,” Season 5, Ep. 11

“The penultimate episode was a favorite. Thanks to Craig Wright, who always wrote great things for dear Claire and who wrote this episode, I got to do superfun stuff like be wasted at work and yell at Kirsten [Abby Brammell] in my cute little business-lady outfit and scream, hit, and throw water on Ted [Chris Messina]. I loved working with Chris. I had this total rock of a character as a counterpoint to my wild, out-of-control, grieving Claire. It was so nice to have that energy on set as we all wrapped up this momentous life experience. I actually wonder if they wrote me those scenes in part because Michael C. Hall and I quoted continuously. It must have been pretty annoying.”

5. Alan Ball (Creator)

“Everyone’s Waiting,” Season 5, Ep. 12

“When the writers reconvened for the fifth season, we knew we had to come up with the end first. I remember joking around the table and someone saying, ‘We should just kill everybody.’ But then I realized we should be with each character at the moment of their deaths. The show started with death and should end with death. Ultimately, the show is about life in the constant presence of death. Once we knew that was going to happen, it seemed so organic to the show. In terms of the show and my legacy, I didn’t ever think about that. Whenever I started thinking about that, I felt like such a big, pretentious asshole — so embarrassing!”

The full series is available to stream on HBO NOW and HBO GO.

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