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September 5, 2015

Six Feet Under's creator reveals 8 new character facts

by Russell Shaw, posted Aug 28th 2005 11:15PM

Alan BallOn Tuesday, Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball did an interview with Terry Gross, host of NPR's Fresh Air.

During the interview (link to the audio archive launch page below this post) Ball mentions eight plot and character-destiny details that didn't come up during the course of the series - or even in the final obits posted on the Six Feet Under website.


Six Feet Under-Ruths Funeral

Here are the eight new details Ball reveals in the interview:

1. The reason why Nate didn't die in the final episode was - to loosely paraphrase Ball - was that Ball wanted the last episodes to depict the arc of how the other characters would react to his death.

2. Had Nate recovered, the trauma of going thru Nate's illness- and his subsequent recovery- might have brought, and quite likely kept - Brenda and Nate together for a long time to come.

3. Had Nate stayed with Maggie, she would have had a hard time living up to what he saw in her during that one time they had sex. My take: Alan's probably right. I speak experientially.

4. Brenda married two more times after Nate's death. My take: The fast-future scenes, as well as the obituary on the Six Feet Under site, only refer to one subsequent husband - so it is likely that other marriage was a brief one.

5. Claire and Ted married, of course, but not until her mid 40s when she runs into Ted during her mother's funeral in 2025. My take: At that point, it is established that Claire has achieved significant artistic success in New York, so she had to return to Los Angeles for the funeral. Given that Claire's New York success presumably continued after 2025, it's highly likely that Ted moved to New York to be with his new wife.

6. The Six Feet Under staff writers considered bringing siblings Billy and Brenda together sexually, but that thought was rejected after much discussion.  Terry Gross said that most of her friends who watched the show were "relieved" that the quasi-foreplay the two characters engaged in was only part of a dream.

7. It not a certainty that Nate was Maya's biological father. My take: I suspected that from the beginning.

8. The complete story of what happened between Nate's late wife Lisa and her brother-in-law Hoyt up to the time of her presumed violent death at his hands isn't completely known.

Ball also said that to combat spoiler leaks, false plot lines were included in some of the scripts faxed to casting directors and agents. 


one more thing I wished Terry Gross would have asked Ball:


"Why are the death scenes - especially those far in the future - not dressed up with presumed artifacts from those future eras?"

Think about it. Keith's armored truck, exit from which caused him to meet a hail of bullets in 2033, looks as an armored truck would be today. And when Claire dies in 2085, the medical equipment shown looks very much like 80 years ago.

That, of course, would be today.

What would you have asked Alan Ball if you had the chance?

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On the futuristic debate-if I think about it-when I was a little kid of 10 in 1977 and I pictured myself @ age 33 in the year 2000-I thought I'd be flying around in a Jetson's type vehichle by then. Cars, Construction even some medical technology have not come very far in almost 30 years, so I wasn't at all surprised to see the armored car Keith was killed in not looking all that futuristc, or the medical equipment by the time Claire dies.

September 13 2005 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't agree that "the scenes from the future weren't necessarily actual," and that Claire may have imagined them. On the one hand, I can tell you for a fact that the scenes from the future definitely were not actual, because the entire show is a fictional show. So, if you were worried taht those things are really going to happen in the future, set your mind at ease. But I don't think Claire imagined David teaching Durrell about how to drain the fluids in a dead body, for example. And Claire wasn't present for the conversation when Ruth said she was going to open a doggie day-care service. It's certainly possible Ruth told Claire about it in a scene we didn't see, and it's also possible that Claire imagined the embalming-teaching scene and all the very specific scenarios for her family's deaths, as well as the Death of her brother's business partner. And she might also have imagined the same typeface that we've seen for every other death over the past five years of the series. But I don't agree that this is a very plausible interpretation of that scene. I think we are supposed to understand that we have seen the final fates of each of these characters. But even if these deaths are in Claire's imagination, I don't think it makes a huge difference. She is going to bury her mother and a lot of other people she loves. All of us are, and that's the point of the scene, I think.

August 30 2005 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Father: You're missing the point. David: There is no point. That's the point... Isn't it? Father: Don't give me this phony existential bullshit. I expect better from you. The point's right in front of your face. David: Well, I'm sorry, but I don't see it. Father: You're not even grateful, are you? David: Grateful? For the worst fucking experience of my life? Father: You hang onto your pain like it means something, like it's worth something. Well, let me tell you, it's not worth shit. Let it go. (sighs) Infinite possibilities and all he can do is whine. (tosses cigarette) David: What am I supposed to do? Father: What do you think? You can do anything, you lucky bastard. You're alive! What's a little pain compared to that? David: It can't be that simple. Father: What if it is?

August 30 2005 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it's important to remember that the scenes from the future weren't necessarily actual. Rather, Claire could have imagined them as she drove across the country to New York. This might help to explain why the future didn't look so futuristic . . . and let's be thankful for that. Thanks to films such as "Logan's Run," I feared that polyester and feathered hair would be with us forever.

August 30 2005 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Speaking of TiVo, one thing that bothered me was that Durrell, at Claire's wedding was holding hands with a man who was obviously his gay lover. Statistics show that boys raised by gay households are no more likely than other boys to be gay as adults. I think that kind of prejudice which is not based in reality gives fuel to those who oppose adoption by gay couples, so I was troubled by it. As for Keith's demise, who knows what kind of guns and bullets they'll have in 2029? Maybe that was part of a few-year period when there was some kind of kevlar-piercing weapon against which no vest could defend. Emotionally, I was struck by how hollow David's applause was at Claire's wedding, as though his life was simply meaningless without Keith, and he ached with the unfairness of his sister starting out on her romantic life, after his was ended. And there seemed to be no bond at all between David and his lover with whom he was picnicking when he died. Finally, I was stunned that so many of the Fishers died in their sixties. That's a very short life span, even today, when life expectancy is over 80. And, of course, life expectancies will only increase. I would have expected the baby-boomers to live to their late 90s or early 100s, and the gen-x-ers to live a decade or two longer. Life expectancy in 1900 was 49. In 2000 it was 79. And those are calculated looking backwards, meaning that a 2000 life expectancy of 79 refers to someone born in 1921 who will, on average, die at 79 in 2000. One last note. As sad as it was watching all the Fishers and their closest friends die, it was sadder still to think about how every one of us is going to die. We all get through the day by pretending that we'll live forever. But you are going to bury your mother. Fifty-fifty you'll bury a sibling. Fifty-fify you'll bury your spouse or lover. We're all already dead in the future. And if not, it'll be the other way around, or you'll die together. It's all already happenning, in the future. It's all already written. What's the point of anything?

August 30 2005 at 5:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

J.Te Quan Said: " And, plenty of security people don't wear kevlar 24/7. Maybe, you're thinking of 50 Cent." Keith was working on an armored truck; this is very different from working "security." I worked on the loading dock of a major US bank for 2 years, with various armored truck crews from different companies. ALL of their personel wore two things at all times: A VERY visible high-calibar sidearm, AND A KEVLAR VEST. As long as they were on duty, I doubt they would take it off to sit on the toilet... Trust me, kid, it was very odd that Keith was not wearing a vest.

August 29 2005 at 8:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim Howlin

If you notice a little more closely (thank goodness for Tivo) they did make an attempt be more futuristic with the armored car Keith died in. The tires do look very futuristic and the California license plate is a barcode. I could not really tell, but it even looked like "California" on the license plate was preceded by a word I could not make out, like "Southern California" or something like that. Perhaps indicating something happens to the state's status in the future.

August 29 2005 at 6:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
J. Te Quan

You have to remember - about artifacts from the future - we're not as techno-savvy or quick as people presume. That's the movie version of the world -- floating cars out next year! Everything's white! The slick, iMac world reflects a certain aesthetic and obsession with design. It will look dated soon enough. And, plenty of security people don't wear kevlar 24/7. Maybe, you're thinking of 50 Cent. Basically, we're still human and clunky, and we will still be making the clunky, cumbersome material objects that reflect our humanity 80 years from now. No matter how much technology we create, the evolution of objects is still pretty freaking slow and not infused with much in the way of originality. (I was in an ENT's office the other day, and his equipment looked seriously 1867. I mean, has there been any major breakthrough in dentistry since the X-Ray?) The real question is why prosthetics that are supposed to age actors still look like crap after all these years. Its a real testament to the show and the actors that the make-up, "the future" looking out of whack to some folks, Claire's dye job or Keith's Col. Sanders' beard didn't stop the series finale from making grown men cry. I mean, it's all irrelevant when you've so emotionally identified with the characters that what you're really doing is staring your own mortality in the face.

August 29 2005 at 3:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would have asked: Why wasn't Keith wearing a bullet proof vest? And if he owned the armored truck company, why was he working ON THE TRUCK?

August 29 2005 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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