They’re Really Trying to Resurrect Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under tombstone.
Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Six Feet Under remains the gold standard for series finale episodes. Back on August 21, 2005, America was left collectively gut-punched when Claire Fisher drove across the country to New York and the conclusive fates of all the major cast members of the death-obsessed series played out on screen. Soundtracked to “Breath Me,” it is almost entirely the reason Sia became a mainstream star. More than 15 years later, it’s still mentioned as one of the best if not the best endings to a television series ever.

And yet ...the show may be coming back?

The news comes from a report in the trade outlet Variety, which claims that a “follow-up” is in “early development” at HBO. The word “series” isn’t even conclusively used, and it seems that HBO itself isn’t even sure what, exactly, it wants quite yet. “No plotline has been decided, meaning it could be a reboot or more of a sequel series following up on existing characters from the show in the present day, but no decision has been made,” reports Variety.

Creator Alan Ball, along with executive producers Bob Greenblatt and David Janollari are the only names definitely attached at this point.

The original series, which ran from 2001 until 2005, was created in the immediate wake of Ball’s breakthrough with the Oscar-winning American Beauty. It followed the Fisher family as they ran a funeral home in Los Angeles and contemplated their own lives and mortality. It was the type of show in which, if it took place today, someone dying on a Peloton would have been a standard cold open. While not quite as popular as other HBO series at the time, like Sex and the City and The Sopranos, it was nominated for 53 Emmy awards and picked up a Peabody.

The famously conclusive and definitive ending of the series felt very much in line with a show that is, ultimately, about death, which makes this revival news a bit perplexing.

HBO and its parent company Warner Media were purchased by AT&T back in 2018, and Tinseltown has watched closely as the new ownership tries to expand the prestige HBO brand into wider financial success. That’s why your HBO Max subscription comes with revivals like the Sex and the City follow-up And Just Like That... and the recent Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark. Interestingly, back in December 2020, the trades reported that a reboot of True Blood, which was also created by Ball, was in the works. Though Ball himself told The Daily News this past June that he wasn’t very interested or particularly involved in the project. “I’ve been there, done that,” he told the paper. “I don’t ever need to do anything about vampires ever again for the rest of my life.”

Ball was also asked about the possibility of resurrecting Six Feet Under at the time. “I don’t know how you could do it,” I said. “I mean unless you just reboot it from scratch and recast all the roles,” he continued. “But like, what’s the point of doing that? I feel like then ... you’re just trying to create product ... Which is what everybody’s doing these days anyway.”

However, the News added that he, “briefly mused about a show centered on the sons of David (Michael C. Hall) and Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) running the funeral home, but he didn’t seem too enthused.”

“I mean, it belongs to HBO. If they wanna reboot it because they think there’s money to be made, they will do it,” the writer concluded. “And probably what I’ll do is say, ‘Well, you gotta pay me some money and put my name on it, but go with God.’”

Well, apparently HBO really is going with God in this case.

It begs the question, though, just how many of its former hits will HBO try to revive in one form or another? Seth Rogan in Arli$$ Jr? Bigger Love? Lena Dunham’s Boys? Oh, Lord, we’re six months out from an Entourage reboot, too, aren’t we?