Will kids ruin this dark show's edge? ''Six Feet'''s gone ga-ga with child-centered plotlines, and Nancy Miller worries that all this baby talk might spoil the grown-up fun
Frances Conroy, Rachel Griffiths, ...

Will kids ruin this dark show’s edge?

How appropriate that 67-year-old Benjamin Srisai was hauling out the family’s plastic blue recycling bin when he suffered his fatal heart attack. As a Thai Buddhist, he most likely hoped to be recycled into the next life, though he should pray it’s not to be reborn in or around the dysfunctional Fisher clan, where all of a sudden kids are an emerging theme.

Despite the Fisher sons’ dismissal of the psychic widow’s earlier prediction, there are children in both Nate and David’s future. Unfortunately for Nate, if the mom-to-be has her way, his unborn baby will most likely never know him. In the beginning of the episode, the very pregnant and perpetually overall-wearing Lisa (Lili Taylor) drops by for Nate to sign the papers surrendering his rights as a father, assuming his lack of interest and taking it as a point of pride. ”I’m having a child with the last person in the world who would want a child,” she boasts ruefully to Nate as he signs the document.

But for the record, Nate has changed. Or is at least in the process of changing. This is made clear by a fantasy sequence that turns Fisher & Sons into a twisted Gymboree with a hallucinatory hello from a seven-year-old version of the zygote he and Lisa aborted years before. With sledgehammer subtlety, the phantom with pigtails assures Nate, ”No hard feelings. I’m pro-choice. At least I would have been if I were alive.”

Through Nate’s further ruminations of all the babies he might have sired (and judging by the amount of them running through this scene, he’s up there with Wilt Chamberlain in conquest and Brigham Young in seed power) he deserves some credit. He’s far from perfect, but with his commitment to Brenda and the family business, he’s not the same ambling lothario he was a year ago. But as Lisa points out, when he agrees to be the baby’s father without consulting Brenda, is he mature enough to be a father? Maybe not, but We’ll see.

David (Michael C. Hall), on the other hand, is ready to be a daddy. In fact, he currently plays mommy to his spoiled brat of a boyfriend, Keith (Mathew St. Patrick). And with the dramatic arrest of Taylor’s drugged-out mother after a deadly hit and run accident involving Her High-ness and a homeless man, it looks like Taylor’s there to stay. But judging by David and Keith’s troubled relationship, is Taylor any better off being with a volatile control freak and his cowardly enabling partner?

In real life, bringing a child into the world changes everything. The same can be said for bringing kids onto TV shows. Introducing little ones permanently changes the dynamics of a show, often for the worse. In the case of ”Six Feet Under,” it might soften the show’s more intriguing rough spots. For instance, were Brenda to get pregnant (between Nate and her other countless encounters, it’s possible) her sex and drugs days are automatically over, and so is her disturbing edge. Who’s going to give coke and have a swinging menage a trois, as Brenda did this episode, with a big ol’ pregnant lady? Though then again, with Alan Ball at the helm, who knows?

Making room for a kid or two is fine, but introducing major baby-heavy plots on this sexy, cynical, surprising, and hilariously morbid show are a drag. It’s like when somebody set out to make Las Vegas ”family friendly” a few years back. Sure, kids might make for safe, clean fun, but in the end, it ruins it for us grown-ups who aren’t afraid of the dark.

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