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Comunicar Journal 25: Quality Television (Vol. 13 - 2005)

Six feet Under, a quality series: narrative analysis of the pilot program


Miguel-Ángel Huerta-Floriano


Following the success of the film American Beauty, in 2000, the script writer and producer Alan Ball created the series Six feet under for HBO, the cable television channel. The awards, recognition and excellent reviews, as well as the national and international public response, have confered the series with a seal of unanimous approval. But, why is Six feet under a quality series? What do we mean by that? What are the basic features that explains such a great welcome throughout the world? Our purpose is to address these and other questions through the narrative analysis of the pilot program. First of all, the program welcomes its potential audience and introduces them to its most characteristic features. But, at the same time, it sets the distinctive traits of a serialized discourse with long-lasting prospects. As such, that first program is the prototype of the product's expressive personality and creates the genetic map that will guide its development before the public's watchful eye. For all those reasons, we feel we should reflect on the more outstanding narrative aspects of Six feet under's first program. In particular, we are proposing an analysis centered around the building of the dramatic tenor of the series, in the introduction of the characters, in the establishment of exclusive singularities, in the parameters of the story structure and in the introduction of the plot being developed continuously from the start and that will help to put together the narrative framework for the present season and even future ones – that's why they are known in some circles as horizontal plots -. Likewise, we will dwell on those aspects related with the subject matter at hand. We shall definitely try to untangle the reasons why Six feet under is considered as a clear show of quality television, with a blend of black humour and drama, of custom and fantasy, of the common and the strange.


A quality series, six feet under, pilot program

PDF file in Spanish


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