Granted, two shows couldn’t be more dissimilar, but they both ran during the same time frame and were highly entertaining shows. I found that The Sopranos lost its thunder in the middle of season five, and should have ended there. The story lines started crumbling and many were left open-ended. Six Feet Under, however, remained true to form for all five seasons, and had the best finale of any series I’ve ever seen. What are your thoughts?
I lost interest during the first episode of the sopranos when it first aired. I didn’t watch six feet under until the start of the third season, but was able to catch up to a lot of the things that had happened in the previous seasons. Since the final episode I’ve watched thethe entire series all the way through and enjoyed it even more than I originally had. lthough I liked the finale of the series, I really didn’t like the ending where they showed all of the main characters in the future and how they died. I just found it a bit unnecessary since one of the the man points in the series is that everyone dies; it’s only innevitable that the main characters will die as well.
I liked both but find I remember episodes of The Sopranos much more vividly than Six Feet Under. Yes The Sopranos went downhill at the end but a couple of relationships on Six Feet Under started to get tiresome too. The Wire has them both beat.
I’ve only watched the first season if Six Feet Under, and that was about 6, maybe 7 years ago. I don’t remember much about it aside form I enjoyed it. I’d like to go back and check out the whole of the show at some point.
I got the Sopranos complete series DVD set for Christmas and just finished the last episode today. Overall, I have to say Season Three was my favourite (Pine Barrens!) but I didn’t think there was that big a dip in quality between seasons five and six. Maybe I just feel that way because I had zero wait time between the two seasons (aside from the time it takes to switch discs) and so my expectations didn’t have any time to be built up.
And Steve is right, The Wire (which I went through before I started on The Sopranos) is better then either one. I’d trade any given episode of either show for 10 more minutes of The Wire.
I guess I’ll have to tune in to The Wire. I watched the first episode of the first season, but it reminded me too much of work. But I watched the entire 5th season for the same reason, and loved it. I guess I’ll give it a go.
I feel that the team of writers on Six Feet Under was perhaps the greatest collaboration, for I recall not one bad episode of this show – each episode perfectly played off the other. The characters were so real, so tragic yet so beautiful in so many real and human ways. The mortality and alienation themes really rang true. I guess I should have narrowed this topic down to just Six Feet Under, but since I viewed both shows simultaneously, and enjoyed both so much, It just got me comparing and contrasting the two shows.
I think the more appropriate battle is between Six Feet Under and The Wire. They both win. The Wire is a masterpiece the way a galaxy is a masterpiece. Six Feet Under is a masterpiece the way an atom is a masterpiece. Both are incomprehensible in their beauty.
HBO really puts out some top notch series. Showtime is giving them a run for the money though with Dexter.
‘Six Feet Under’ is a absolute masterpiece. No TV show can even be compare to Alan Ball’s series. The ending is one of the most wonderful and touching moment I’ve ever seen on the screen (both cinema and TV screen).
Oh man. I wrote a whole big thing about how the gangster mentality is bullshit, and how Scorsese is usually deft about it by demonstrating its absurdity, but that Sopranos took it too seriously, and how SFU was more emotionally satisfying and had quality performances all around… and I lost it :( But perhaps you get the idea.
Six Feet Under stands up to repeat viewings way better than The Sopranos. I can’t even comprehend the lack of entertainment options that would drive me to re-watch episodes of The Sopranos, but I know I’m not the only one that thinks one of the best parts of the holidays is watching the inevitable HBO cable syndication marathons for Six Feet Under (not to mention Band of Brothers).
SIX FEET UNDER is drivel, redeemed by the occasional bit of fine acting. Arch and over clever, like all of Alan Ball’s nonsense. Completely forgettable.
THE SOPRANOS is television at its very best, thrilling and thought-provoking. Yeah, the occasional mis-step, like Tony’s gambling addiction which came out of nowhere late in the series. But at its very best there is nothing in SIX FEET UNDER to come near it. The sequence of Livia’s funeral is one of the high points of American narrative art, funny and appalling and oddly moving.
@ Lazlo: I have watched the complete series of SFU, I think, a total of three times now. I totally agree with you. With each viewing, there’s something new I get out of it that really connects. I don’t get that with the Sopranos, and never felt the urge to rewatch the series again, and the last two seasons were a total waste, imo. The creative well for The Sopranos dried up after Season 4. But what Sopranos did offer in those four seasons was groundbreaking.
I agree that the Wire is the finest series by leaps and bounds. I do find the Sopranos very entertaining as well, though.
Both have very strong characters.
Both had tons of versimilitude for what modern life was like in that period, which is one of the major achievements of those shows, but of the two I think The Sopranos is the classic tv show. David Chase is unsparing, one tough cookie.
“Six Feet Under.” Its ending is quite moving.
Second the notion that “The Wire” is better than both. It is every bit as impressive a look into a vast urban system as Dickens’ “Bleak House.”
For me, the first 2 series of SFU are close to perfection. The relationships are beautifully played out, especially the Nate/Brenda one which really had an edge to it. I felt that the 3rd season was a bit of a drop off. The later seasons all had stunning and beautiful moments, but I feel that the character of Nate became a bit of a cipher – by the 5th series I felt like I didn’t know him any more. The big event of the last few episodes was a good way to end the series, but I feel they dragged things out a bit at the very end.
Sopranos was also amazing – although I prefer SFU for repeated viewing, especially the first two series. Unlike some of you, I thought that all of the Sopranos series were equally good.
Six Feet Under greater than Sopranos by maybe a mere 20 percent margin. Sopranos started strongly and prob. went a few seasons more than was ness. While Six Feet under really didn’t ramp up to it’s full glory til Season 3. And ended very very strongly.
Both have a great opening
I’m a bit surprised that this show hasn’t been spoken of much here. While I’m done with it, it meant a great deal to me and I think its the best show of the 2000s – hands down – and one of the best television shows ever made. How can a person watch the entirety of the show and not be moved to tears by its final moments? Best casting for a television show I’ve seen, and casting is everything.
As far as the Sopranos, it was a good show but I could never shake the feeling that the writers never knew where it was going. And beyond James and Edie, was the casting anything special? Joey Pants? Steve Buscemi? Best parts of the show, for me, were the tripped out dream sequences (best moments being the season 2 finale). But nothing on that show compares to the emotional cathexes of SFU.
That being said, Alan Ball’s Towelhead was downright bad. Never watched an ep of True Blood, I’m sure it’s charming, if you’re captivated by the whole vampire thing, which I’m not (to my own surprise, all the elements of vampirism should have me rapt – blood-sucking, brooding, immortality. But no, no…).
I only watched the final season of 6 Feet, but I was captivated by the excellent character work immediately, and I actually told my wife that there was only one way to end the show. The actual ending was exactly what I prefigured.
I have a similar idea as to how Dexter needs to end—if the writers have balls enough, that is.
Sopranos hands down. This was one of the best shows ever made for television, even if it began to trail off in Season Five and Six. Six Feet Under had a lot of promise, two good seasons, but after that it was all downhill. The final season was insufferable to watch.
Wow. Final season insufferable… that’s not something I’ve ever heard before. I felt that last season did everything right, was the best amalgamation of what the show was capable of doing. Though i won’t deny that season 2’s finale was the hardest hit I’ve ever been by a television show.
^ Agree about S2.
I found The Sopranos to be ultimately a bit too meandering, even in its finale, to be completely satisfying, but when I think about these kinds of series I find very few that achieve that kind of satisfaction for me.
6 Feet did it (no doubt because I figured out how they would end beforehand).
Lost shit the bed. X Files likewise (I stopped watching after S6).
Battlestar is the close second for me. It’s a contentious ending but I love it nonetheless.
People say very good things about Battlestar. I suppose I do need to watch it. OK. I’ll do that.
I liked Six Feet Under a lot (but my favorite series of all time is X-Files). Is it true that tv critics in usa treated it as “contrived” and “pretentious”?.
I never saw The Sopranos.
This reminds me that I read somewhere in the web that Chris Marker used to get together with Alan Resnais and other people to voraciously consume The Sopranos and other tv stuff.
I watched both of them from start to finish over 6 months, I can say emphatically that Sopranos was the better series start to finish. 6FU suffered terribly over the long haul. It had great promise. The first two seasons were primo, but it simply stank after that. It focused too much on the core characters and lost sight of its premise, which was to use the cadavers as the basis for its stories. It was little better than Desperate Housewives in the end. Never liked Peter Krause. He could drag a whole show under. James Cromwell was great addition but hated the way they dragged him under with Alzheimers, just when he was beginning to perk up the show. The relationship between David and Keith was great until Alan Ball decided to drag it through the mud and make a soap opera out of it. Really loved Claire but when you look at the at the series as a whole the ending made no sense at all. So pathetically sentimental.
I lost interest in The Sopranos and watched SFU through to the end which I’ve only done with maybe 3 or 4 series. SFU took some real risks with its character arcs and was brilliantly acted and written until the end even if some of those turns were hard to watch (like Nate becoming a total dick or rather revealing that he always had been). It also had the best series finale EVER. Sentimental yes but I don’t automatically consider sentiment bad.
However, The Sopranos was equally as innovative and brilliantly acted particularly Edie Falco who has to be the best TV actress of all time imo. However, the episodes started becoming a little narratively diffuse and overly symbolic in the third or fourth season which lost my attention. This doesn’t take away from the quality of the show but only reflects my preferences in hour long dramas. The hubbub about the last episode was ridiculous though – I hadn’t watched the show for two years before the finale and even I understood what happened when the screen went black. What a gutsy way to end that show.
The one series I pride myself on not watching regularly is LOST. The fans were insufferable and after the finale I knew I had made the right decision – it was clear that the emperor had no clothes on that show from season one.