10 Sep

Three Lessons from “Six Feet Under”

How to make your communication efforts really resonate with your audience members

By Libby Esterle, Senior Account Executive

Several months ago, I finally watched “Six Feet Under,” courtesy of Amazon Prime (as I didn’t spring for  HBO when it aired 20+ years ago). And although it took me a few episodes to really get into it, I then found myself hoarding the series because I didn’t want to burn through it too fast. However, this did backfire on me when I waited too long and ending up having to buy a one-month subscription to HBO to finish the last season when Prime and/or HBO moved it to paid viewing—so little lesson learned there.

Anyway, you know you’ve stumbled upon something pretty special when you find yourself thinking about it long after you’ve finished the series. Same goes for when you end up watching and re-watching the finale more than once because you are hesitant to finally say “goodbye” to characters you have come to love (or not, depending—see more below). To that end, I have to admit that it took me awhile to write this blog because of the emotions the show drudged up in me- quite simply, I had to be in the right mood and frame of mind to revisit how the show made me feel.

While the series did show its age here and there with characters sporting flip phones, outdated hair styles and fashion choices, it’s endured because of a few things that made this award-winning show so successful. The same things that can be applied to thoughtful, strategic, and effective communications and marketing efforts:

  • Write it Right. And right is exactly what “Six Feet Under” gave its viewers. The scripts were compelling, thoughtful, sometimes controversial, always interesting and, overall, just plain excellent. Good writing never goes out of style and is always appreciated so taking the time to make sure your communications are top-notch will help elevate your efforts and ensure success.
  • Keep it Real. The same qualities that made the writing so great also naturally extended to the show’s characters. They were very human, well-developed characters with a lot of heart and flaws, making them all the more real and relatable. Some were also downright unlikable which only added to the “realness” of the show. So, make sure your messaging is sincere and memorable in order to strike the right chord with your readers/viewers/listeners.
  • That’s a Wrap. In my opinion, the series’ finale (warning: this link contains spoilers) is one of the best of all time. It was emotional, touching, moving, and beautifully shot and produced. But, most importantly for me, it provided much-need closure. Closure on each and every primary character I had become personally invested in over five seasons. And I think the same goes for communications: don’t leave your audience members hanging, let them know what to expect and provide follow up as necessary.

Now, we’d love to hear from you! Are there any memorable shows, movies, or books that you recommend we check out?