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Monday, July 28, 2003



Back to Six Feet Under and Abortion. Prompted by a rash of Emmy nominations, Radley Balko, The Agitator, writes about how Six Feet Under portrays abortion:

"But there's something else about the show that I've found surprising, and that should hold some appeal for conservatives. Alan Ball and his team of writers have shown a courageous willingness to challenge Hollywood orthodoxy on the subject of prenatal life, on the moral absolute of abortion rights, and on the soul-carrying capacity of a fetus. It's probably a stretch to say the show is "pro-life," or even "anti-abortion," but it has at least been sympathetic to the idea that abortion is more than a mere personal choice rooted in identity politics — that it is a very real decision with very real consequences, and perhaps for parties other than just the woman who chooses to get one.

Perhaps the most evident example occurs in the last two episodes of the third season, which aired this past May. Claire Fisher discovers she's pregnant with the child of an ex-boyfriend who became an "ex" after sleeping with his (male) art teacher. Given those circumstances, that she's 18, and a first-year art-school student herself, she decides without much hesitation or deliberation to get an abortion. We see no evidence of belabored consternation or angst. She enlists the help of her brother Nate's ex-girlfriend (played by Griffiths), who agrees to drive her to the clinic, no questions asked.

It's at the abortion clinic that the show begins to diverge from traditional Hollywood portrayals of the issue. The director paints the abortion clinic remarkably frigid, sterile, and numb tones. The scene is shot with little color or depth. Claire's emotionally detached throughout the scene, and the entire process smacks of a slaughterhouse, or as one critical reviewer put it, "a cattle-call." Everything about the scene is spare, procedural, and devoid of all humanity — a reflection, perhaps, on the banality with which Claire made the decision in the first place. The doctors and nurses bring in one pregnant woman after another, evacuate their wombs, then send each on her way.

The weight of the abortion begins to bear down on Claire in the next (and last season's final) episode. We see her visibly stress and eventually breakdown from her decision, or at least from the lack of thought that went into it. She's asked to baby-sit her infant niece Maya, and the thought turns her stomach."

And there's more. Read it all.

For my previous comments on abortion and Six Feet Under, see here and
here.

Let's keep in mind, though, that losing a child to abortion is not a complex, fascinating television show.

Update: See The Curmudgeonly Clerk.

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