Considering Alan Ball

Essays on Sexuality, Death and America in the Television and Film Writings


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About the Book

Academy Award-winning screenwriter of the film American Beauty and creator of the HBO series Six Feet Under, Alan Ball has consistently probed the cultural forces shaping gender, sexuality, and death in the United States. Through gritty dialogue and edgy humor, Ball centers much of his social critique on the illusory promises of the American Dream. For many of his characters, a belief in the American Dream—including idealized notions of the family, heterosexual norms, and the acceptance of prescribed gender roles—proves stifling and self-destructive.
This is the first book to explore Ball’s writings for theater, television and film, with an emphasis on his best-known work. These essays offer insight into both the captivating and problematic dimensions of Ball’s work, while drawing connections among his diverse writings. An interview with Ball is included.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Fahy, also the author of several books and editor of Considering David Chase: Essays on The Rockford Files, Northern Exposure and The Sopranos (2007) and Considering Aaron Sorkin: Essays on the Politics, Poetics and Sleight of Hand in the Films and Television Series (2005) is an assistant professor of English and director of American Studies at Long Island University.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Thomas Fahy
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 190
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2592-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8928-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Sexuality, Death, and the American Dream in the Works of Alan Ball: An Introduction      1

An Interview with Alan Ball      17

Good Mourning, America: Alan Ball’s American Beauty      23

The Space Between Us: The Psychology of Houses in American Beauty      33

A Heart Caves In: The Dangerous Aesthetics of American Beauty      45

“You Have to Develop an Eye For It”: Anti-Aesthetic Art in Alan Ball’s Vision      70

Meet the Chenowiths: The Therapeutic Drama of Six Feet Under      86

Strangers in Blood: The Queer Intimacies of Six Feet Under      107

When We Living Awaken      124

Bridesmaids, Bosoms, and Booze: Visibility and the Veiling of Conservatism      139

Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride: The American Dream in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress      157

Appendix: Works for Theater, Film and Television      173

About the Contributors      179

Index      181