Religion In The News

Mistaken Rapture in HBO's "Six Feet Under" Series

by Elroy Willis -- June 25, 2004

The writers at HBO liked my story idea enough to use it in the opening scene of the June 20th, 2004 episode of Six Feet Under, entitled "In Case of Rapture."

Editorial From

by John Leonard


"Connoisseurs of the bizarre kibosh will especially prize the first few minutes of the second hour of the fourth season of Six Feet Under (Sundays, starting June 13; 9 to 10 p.m.; HBO). A pickup truck hits a bump in the road, unleashing its freight of inflatable dolls. These pornographic Twinkies rise into the Southern California sky, topsy-turvy and akimbo, a flock of flesh tones. A middle-aged woman, a true believer, stops and gets out of her car, in the middle of the highway, to admire and embrace this pink Assumption. She thinks what she sees is the Rapture; she expects to levitate herself. Instead, of course, she is run down, sideswiped, and winds up with a tag on her toe in the Fisher-family funeral home."


Notice that in this reporting or re-telling of the HBO rendition of the story, the reporter got wrong the part about it being a bump in the road which caused the brakes to be put on, and the covering of the helium-filled dolls to come loose. In fact, it was actually a guy on a skateboard that the driver was trying to avoid hitting that led to the release of the floating sex dolls or angels in the story, not a "bump in the road" which John Leonard claimed was the cause.

This is, in my opinion, a good example of how fast part of a story or urband legend can change or morph into something else, within just one re-telling of it from a person's fallible memory. To be honest, I don't know whether John Leonard actually watched that particular episode of Six Feet Under, and was just relying on his somewhat faulty memory of it, or whether he based his comments on what someone else told him about the episode. I haven't actually talked to him personally, so I can't say for sure.

Editorial From

by scribegrrrl


"The guys play around with the balloons a little (yeah, it's still too easy) and then haul them off in a pickup. They slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a skateboarder, and of course the netting that's covering the dolls comes a bit loose, and several of them fly on up and out."

"Cut to a station wagon with a bumper sticker that says "I brake for the rapture." I like the ones that say "In case of rapture, can I have your car?"

You can see where this is going. The woman at the wheel of the wagon (whose glasses are as bad as Jenny's on The L Word) is listening to a radio program about Jesus and thinking about the rapture, which of course is also another word for a really good orgasm. And there are those sex toys floating in the sky. She thinks they're a bunch of angels, so she gets out of the car and runs right out into the street, where she is promptly flattened by a car that doesn't brake for the rapture or the enraptured of any sort. I shouldn't laugh."


Notice that scribegrrrl got the part right about it being a guy on a skateboard that caused the release of the dolls, and not some "bump in the road." It sounds to me like she's more likely to have actually watched the episode and/or has a better memory than John Leonard.

And here's one more...

Editorial From

by Daniel J. Blau


"The plot hates God, and also it thickens. The short stop of the truck helps shake free the mesh hold over the pornloons, which begin floating upward. Just at this moment, we cut to a shot of the bumper of a Ford Taurus station wagon, on which is proudly posted a bumper sticker reading "I brake for the rapture!" in the usual place you'd expect to see the "My child is an honor student at Unnecessarily- Braggy-Soccer-Mom Junior High School" on your average Ford Taurus station wagon."

"But now, "I brake for the rapture!" I love the exclamation point. It has a subversively brash "Leave off the last 'S'for Savior" panache to it that I really respect. Inside the car is a middle-aged woman with glasses so large she could see the end of The DaVinci Code coming from the second chapter (but really, who couldn't?) so she could get started on her complaint letter to the Christian Science Monitor earlier than everyone in her prayer circle."

"She is listening to a Christian radio station on which a man and a woman discuss how "wifely desires are meant by God to be satisfied by their husbands." She utters a perfunctory "praise the Lord," and I agree silently that I too would start to listen to this station if His good grace were spending His time telling me how to get laid."

"The Taurus navigates through a parking lot and comes to a stop when its driver sees a stream of porny naked balloons rising up from behind a nearby building. She mistakes them for angels, bedecked in flowing white robes, ascending up to heaven. And she seems to develop a knee-jerk desire to join them, as she rushes out of her car and runs into the street yelling permutations of "Oh, my Lord!"

"She raises her arms up to heaven and her torso out to passing traffic, and a bone-crunching sound effect later we meet the ex-disciple that is Dorothy Sheedy, who loved church picnics and hated David and Keith, without ever having met them, from 1954-2003."



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