Monday, July 27, 2009
I just finished watching six feet under on dvd. I loved this series. I realized I would like it as soon as I found out the creator also wrote the script for American Beauty. Also, I heard an clip from the first episode - with Nate and David arguing about proper behavior their father's funeral. I was hooked.
Some of the situations are unnecessarily dramatic - if one thinks about what most people would do in the situation - it would not be breaking dishes and screaming, for example. But it makes for good television.
As an aside, the series is sometimes graphic (language, sex, drug use) - it is not something I would watch with little ones around. To be fair, a friend of mine said my affection for the series told her a lot about me. I think it's quite true. I just love the flawed, screwed up characters. They're so much more interesting than, say, June Cleaver.
If you haven't seen it, I don't think it's giving away too much to explain how many issues that Ruth (the matriarch) has. And understandably so - she's spent her whole life serving her grandmother, then husband and young children. Her adult children have trouble communicating with her, and she has a lot of problems communicating with them.
Sometimes scenes with Ruth hit uncomfortably close to home for me. Scenes when it's clear Ruth has unsaid expectations of a relationship/person and then becomes angry and resentful when those expectations aren't met. It's a reoccurring theme throughout the series.
There's a great scene where Ruth feels overwhelmed caring for her mentally ill husband. She fears that he'll never be independent again, that he's simply a weight that she alone has to bear (and there is clearly some martyrdom going on there). Nate, her son, asks if there's anything he can do. She brushes him off, saying there's nothing he could do.
She mentions she has to go to the grocery store. Nate (and George, her second husband) say they could go to the store, if she would give them a list. She acts frustrated, not wanting to give up the control of going to the store herself. It's clear she doesn't want to allow someone else to take responsibility. She does finally grudgingly give them a list.
Another instance - instead of asking her daughter (Claire) to fold her own laundry - she takes the laundry up to Claire's apartment in a huff and dumps the clothes on Claire's sofa. Ruth is often offended and irritable - but refuses to accept help. She wants it to be done her way, she wants to have the control and the responsibility.
Of course, Ruth also does pretty well, handles some things well and grows throughout the series. She's not hopeless or as powerless as she assumes she is.
But on a more base level, she seems to fit textbook codependency. It's the power of the character, so many people find themselves where she is at.
Since I've been reading more about these types of issues, examining my own expectations, confronting people and asking for help - I'm feeling so much less resentful and negative. I (personally) have been able to enjoy time with my family and loved ones, instead of feeling responsible all the time. I check in, trying to figure out what expectations are, and letting outcomes go.
I just felt like posting about this, as it's a little scary to see your behavior (on steroids) and to realize how offensive it could be.
But it's powerful to realize how far I've come, and that I don't have to live that way. I don't have to buy into the cycle of expectations, manipulation and resentment.