Six Feet Under



Exceptional drama series for mature viewers only.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite the dark tone of the series, the value of self discovery and the importance of family through thick and thin permeate each episode.

Positive role models

Overall the characters are good, flawed people who go through many ups and downs. Characters often make poor decisions as they learn more about themselves, but each main character has a strong moral center. Realistic gay and biracial relationship. Strong female characters. The complex, sometimes dysfunctional relationships among the characters have led to adultery.


A death opens each episode -- usually of a character outside of the main storyline. These deaths sometimes include blood or violence, but are brief. Rare intense, very scary violence.


Graphic sexual content, both straight and gay; nudity, though no genitalia. Non-mainstream sexual practices discussed and exhibited.


Swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t") occurs regularly, though not gratuitously.


Common household brands are sometimes, though rarely, visible.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some alcohol and tobacco use by main characters. Main characters use drugs fairly frequently for recreational purposes. Negative repercussions sometimes occur. Some characters are heavily medicated.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this well-executed drama deals with mature subjects like sex, intimacy, abortion, death, drugs, and violence. Each episode begins with a death, sometimes violently depicted, and later we often see the corpse being prepared for the funeral. Both adult and older teen characters have sex in and out of healthy and/or committed relationships, and though we don't see genitals, scenes are sometimes explicit. Drug use is common and only sometimes portrayed negatively.

What's the story?

This darkly funny drama centers around the Fishers of Pasadena, a family that runs a funeral home while struggling with various existential and practical crises, including the tragic death of their patriarch. There's Nate (Peter Krause), the oldest son who returns from Seattle; David (Michael C. Hall), who's now in charge of the family business and in the closet about his sexuality; tortured teen artist Claire (Lauren Ambrose); and Ruth (Frances Conroy), the traditional, frustrated mother. Against the backdrop of death, relationships blossom and stutter, identities are examined, embraced, and discarded, and emotions peak and flatten. And all the while this imperfect family supports its members through loss, confusion, and the search for meaning. Nate gets engaged to Brenda (Rachel Griffiths), a bright yet psychologically troubled massage therapist. David comes out and struggles to maintain his relationship with Keith (Matthew St. Patrick). Claire completes high school, goes to art school, and dates a handful of complex characters. And Ruth attends personal growth workshops and begins to break out of her shell.

Is it any good?


Created by Alan Ball, who won an Oscar for writing American Beauty, the show (which ran for five seasons on HBO) features a stellar group of actors, writers, and directors. Out of this talent pool emerges a series dearly loved by its fans for the depth of its characters, its complex plots, and its impeccable writing.

Though Six Feet Under is of exceptionally high quality, its mature themes make it inappropriate for younger viewers. Older teens may enjoy the series, though parents may want to preview episodes before deciding if they feel comfortable with the content. What's refreshing about the adult elements -- sex, drug use, etc. -- is the lack of the glamour and gloss that accompany these subjects in so many other TV shows and films. It all seems very real and very human, for better or worse.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about death and funerals. What would teens like to be remembered for? How would they like their life celebrated? What are parents' beliefs about the afterlife, cremation, open caskets?

  • What makes the characters on the show so rich? What are their traits and flaws? How do the characters change and grow through the seasons, and why is it sometimes hard to break out of established patterns?

  • How do the deaths that begin each episode relate to the main characters' experiences during the show?

TV details

Cast:Frances Conroy, Michael C. Hall, Peter Krause
Networks:Bravo, HBO
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Six Feet Under was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bybdub79 April 9, 2008
Written byAnonymous February 24, 2013

Again with all Content rolled into one.

Not for kids. Not for Anyone. EPIC FAIL this show and I don't like this show.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byanonmouse November 12, 2010


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