''Six Feet Under''

Inflated Worth

This ep: Blowup dolls, nude men, poo in the mail. Nate quits the funeral business, while Brenda -- and David (and Claire?) -- make new friends

Peter Krause, Six Feet Under | FATHER'S DAY Nate bonds with Maya
Image credit: Six Feet Under: Doug Hyun
FATHER'S DAY Nate bonds with Maya

Blowup dolls, nude men, poo in the mail

You've got to admire a show, like ''Six Feet Under,'' that has the chutzpah to go from one emotional extreme to another.

I mean, last week, between Claire and Russell's abortion talk and Nate's harrowingly primal yell at shrimp-eaten Lisa's gravesite, the season opener was a bit of a downer -- as in a ''What the hell did I just watch, because freakin' A, I feel seriously depressed'' kind of downer.

So naturally, this week, with tissues in hand, I prepared for yet another tear-jerking episode. Ahh, but I should have known that creator Alan Ball wouldn't have viewers reupping their Zoloft week after week. Instead, those crazy cats at HBO switched gears and lightened the season up a bit with 50 or so floating blowup dolls, Justin Theroux naked, and a Tupperware container of dookie.

Yes, for all of you who missed this episode, I said ''dookie,'' as in ''poo.'' So since I probably piqued your curiosity, let's just go there and get it over with...

I don't know if it's meant to be funny or serious that George -- Ruth's seriously grating, pedantic, but apparently superb-in-the-sack hubby -- received a steaming pile of kaka in the mail from an anonymous donor. All I know is that being the eternal sixth grader that I am, I could not stop laughing at Ruth's priceless ''OH MY GOODNESS! What is THAT?'' reaction upon seeing No. 2 on the kitchen table, or at the many words in which the ''package'' was described by the Fisher family.

Granted, in a few weeks' time when something horrific happens to George that was foreshadowed by the turd-filled canister, I'll inevitably feel guilty for getting a kick out of his mail misfortune. But that's in due time. For now, I'll continue praising ''Six'''s writers for their whimsical ability to integrate potty humor into their otherwise Uberserious drama. (By the way, to ease the minds of antispoiler George-iacs, I have absolutely no knowledge as to what will happen to the know-it-all geologist later this season. ''Something horrific'' is pure speculation on my part. Though, given this show, it's a pretty safe bet that something's going to happen to Georgie-Porgie, right?)

Well, at the very least, something inevitably will cause French horn-playing Joe (Justin Theroux) and Brenda's seemingly perfect relationship to hit a sour note. And that thought saddens me, because as much as I like Nate and his brooding darkness, there's a certain refreshing quality to Joe.

Unlike Nate, he shows up bruise and blood-free at Brenda's door and feeds her dumplings. He patiently goes along with her new ''no sex before 90 days'' policy. And for a quiet, calm musician, he still has enough sass and confidence to unabashedly run his skinny (but HOT!) naked butt over to Brenda's when she finally gives a greenlight to getting it on.

But considering each character on this show has some sort of skeleton in the closet, I'm willing to bet that good ol' Joe has a few secrets of his own. Or at the very least, Brenda's suppressed love for Nate will come back and screw up this oh-so-good thing. No?

Speaking of love, here's four words I never thought I would say: I heart Mena Suvari! Talk about fan-freakin'-tastic casting. Okay, I'll admit, at first I was a little disappointed to hear that the ''American Beauty'' was playing Edie, Claire's new artsy friend -- a role once meant for Zooey Deschanel -- especially considering that her acting skills in ''American Pie'' weren't all that, shall we say, peachy.

But in this episode, when Mena takes the stage as a bitterly delightful performance artist, she simply rocks the house. She's smart. She's witty. And her confident ''I don't give a rat's ass'' attitude is a great complement to Claire's insecure, angst-ridden, ''I'm, like, trying to be a serious, depressed artist'' ways. Is Mena a sign of things to come? As in, could men be a thing of the past for Claire? (Hmmm... take that, Russell!)

Meanwhile, while things seem to be on the upswing for David and Keith (even David's confession of cheating with the funeral home's plumber didn't faze Keith, who was still basking in the glory of becoming a celebrity security guard), Rico and Vanessa seem to be a disaster waiting to happen.

Suffering from a severe case of Catholic guilt, Rico feels the need to repent for his past oral sins by showering his stripper/lover, Sophia, with gifts and attention. First, it's a DVD player. Then it's a couple pizza pies. Next it's a pair of new boobs. Okay, the latter hasn't happened... yet. But again, knowing this show and judging from the way things are shaping up, who knows what limits Miss ''Infinity'' will push in order to get what she wants.

On that note, the one person on ''Six'' who certainly seems to know his limits is my boy Nate. Granted, for three years it's been evident that being a funeral director was hardly his calling. But it finally takes Lisa's passing and a born-again Christian's death by a gaggle of helium-filled blowup dolls (don't ask!) for Nate to realize that he's tired of trying to get bereaved families to ''face the truth'' and understand that life doesn't get better after death. And so, he leaves Fisher and Diaz in the hands of, um, Fisher and Diaz.

Yeah, that should work. As long as David can get his emergency plumbing needs taken care of and Rico can be the head of two households.

Originally posted Jun 20, 2004