When it comes to exploring the intriguing and often unseen world of funeral homes through television shows, it’s important to approach it with sensitivity.
Most people will immediately associate them with the horror genre, but they can also be emotionally charged in other ways. Grief is, after all, an immensely powerful emotion.
These TV series offer viewers a fascinating look into the world of funeral directors, embalmers, and the families they assist.
They are a must-watch for those drawn to the intersection of life and death on the small screen as they expertly navigate the complexities of grief, family dynamics, and the frequently overlooked humanity behind the solemn façade of funeral homes.
SCRIPTED FUNERAL HOME TV SHOWS
Six Feet Under, HBO (2001 – 2005)
Six Feet Under revolves around the Fisher family, who operate a funeral home in Los Angeles.
The sudden death of Nathaniel Fisher, Sr., the family’s patriarch, sets the stage.
Each episode begins with a death (of various causes), and this is what sets the tone as the members of the Fisher family, such as his sons David and Nate, daughter Claire, and widow Ruth, reflect on their own lives in light of the episode’s central death.
In the process, they must deal with their own mortality, family secrets, and the profound effects of death on the living as they manage the difficulties of running a funeral home.
Good Grief, Fox (1990 – 1991)
While the previous show was an exercise in dark humor, Fox’s one-season series from the early 1990s, Good Grief, was just pure sitcom humor.
It takes viewers to Dacron, Ohio, where a family-run funeral home called The Sincerity Mortuary sits.
It’s run by Warren Pepper, a very prim and proper gentleman, his sister Debbie, and Debbie’s much more animated and energetic husband, Ernest.
The family is joined by their funeral assistants, Ringo and Raoul, as they navigate their own odd family dynamics alongside the emotions and quirks of the families they encounter.
Good Grief, TVNZ+ (2021)
Three whole decades after the original series ended, a brand new remake came out in New Zealand!
In this quirky comedy, the Loving Tributes funeral home is suddenly passed down to sisters Gwen and Ellie Goode after the passing of their grandfather.
The siblings, however, are on very different paths in life and about what to do with the business.
Ellie wishes to keep it running to uphold their grandfather’s legacy, but Gwen just wants to get out of the country to become a DJ.
The tension between them is high enough as it is, especially under the less than keen gazee of its eccentric employees.
Fun at the Funeral Parlour, BBC Choice (2001 – 2002)
Fun at the Funeral Parlour, a 2001 British TV series, centers on the hilarious lives of the funeral directors at Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, and Thomas – and yes, they are indeed a family.
Ivor Thomas is the patriarch; he’s sharp, if not slightly too traditional, and he’s constantly hoping for others’ deaths to boost their business.
His three sons, Arwell, Gwynne, and Percy, are expected to help him run the business, and it’s their varying personalities and antics that form much of the show’s comedic aspects.
With its irreverent humor and farcical scenarios, the series offers a unique perspective on the daily antics within the funeral parlor, making it a memorable and offbeat comedy.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix (2018 – 2020)
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina follows the life of Sabrina Spellman, a teenage witch who struggles with her dual nature as a half-mortal and half-witch, as well as her two aunts who run the Spellman Mortuary.
Sabrina fights against evil forces while still in high school, including the cunning Satan himself.
Together with her friends and family, Sabrina faces supernatural dangers and must navigate the intricate world of witchcraft.
Her quest for self-discovery, her efforts to reconcile her two selves, and her attempts to shield those she loves from evil forces are all explored in the show.
Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes, Netflix (2021)
Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes centers on Live Hallangen, a nurse at a small-town nursing home in Skarnes, Norway.
Her life takes a peculiar turn when she is discovered in a field and declared dead, only to wake up just as her autopsy is about to begin.
Her family owns the funeral home, and after an accident that caused their father’s death, her brother takes over the business as it slowly goes bankrupt.
As the events surrounding Live’s so-called revival begin to build, the siblings are tangled further and further in a supernatural mystery.
The Fanelli Boys, NBC (1990 – 1991)
The sitcom The Fanelli Boys revolves around the lives of the Fanelli family: recently widowed Theresa and her four sons, as well as their family-run funeral home.
Anthony was set to buy it from their mother, unknowingly about to buy into $25,000 worth of debt.
His brothers Ronnie and Frankie move back into town as well following downturns in their own lives.
Meanwhile, the last Fanelli sibling, Dom, juggles multiple side hustles.
The brothers bring their unique personalities and eccentricities to the funeral business, leading to a blend of humor, drama, and heartwarming moments.
New Beginnings, Channel 8 (2010)
New Beginnings, a Singaporean TV series, follows the lives of the Cai family, who run a funeral parlor, and the Li family, who run a wedding business.
In their culture, death and marriage are two things that should not intersect, and so naturally, the families’ older generations tended to stay away from each other.
However, the younger ones thought differently, which eventually led to love on both sides.
The show delves into the responsibilities in the funeral and wedding businesses, as well as the development of their personal relationships.
Viewers witness the unique cultural perspectives that shape their experiences in a rapidly changing Singapore.
BEST NON-SCRIPTED TV SERIES ABOUT FUNERAL HOMES
We Bought A Funeral Home, USA (2022)
The title alone should pretty much clue you in on what this docuseries is about!
We Bought A Funeral Home follows husband and wife duo Heather and Arryn Blumberg, as well as their two children, right as they purchase a new home that was once a funeral parlor.
The Blumbergs document leaving behind their lives in the big city to move into a huge, 12,000-square-foot Victorian home in Ontario.
Their plan is to renovate and rebuild it into the home they’ve always dreamed of, but it suddenly starts to seem like the home’s ghostly history isn’t going to make it easy for them.
Buried by the Bernards, Netflix (2021)
It’s rare to find pockets of humor when we’re talking about death and funerals in real life, but a show like Netflix’s Buried by the Bernards might be exactly what we need!
The series began filming in early 2020 before pandemic restrictions and shows a bit of life before everything began shutting down.
Viewers witness the dynamic of running a funeral home – led by family matriarch Debbie and her son Ryan, as well as Ryan’s uncle Kevin and his daughters Reagan and Deja.
The Casketeers, TVNZ 1 (2018 – present)
An intimate and endearing look into the daily lives and work of Francis and Kaiora Tipene, the owners of Tipene Funerals in New Zealand, is showcased in The Casketeers.
The program details their interactions with bereaved families, the difficulties they face in their line of work, and the vibrant sense of community they help to create.
The Tipene family’s compassion, adherence to cultural customs, and sense of humor are on display as they negotiate the complexities of the funeral industry.
Each season shows different aspects of local NZ reality, especially later seasons surrounding the situation during the pandemic.
Family Plots, A&E Network (2004 – 2006)
Family Plots is a non-scripted TV series that follows the daily operations and interpersonal dynamics of the Wissmiller family, who run the Poway Bernardo Mortuary in California.
The show provides an unfiltered look into their lives as they navigate the funeral home business.
In particular, it hones in on patriarch Chris Wissmiller and his relationship with his three daughters as they navigate their workplace and prepare the ceremony for the bereaved.
Each episode features one or two funerals and the families of the deceased.
Occasionally, it respectfully dives into the lives of the dead.
Funeral Boss, Discovery+ (2013)
Next up is a workplace docuseries titled Funeral Boss, which is set in St. Louis, Missouri.
It describes the life and career of the Harris Family Funeral Home’s owner and director, Bill Harris.
The program depicts Bill’s daily struggles as he oversees funeral services, consoles bereaved families, and works to maintain his family’s legacy in the funeral industry.
Viewers are privy to the toll it takes on Bill’s family, but also their utmost commitment to giving the deceased the farewell they deserve.
Best Funeral Ever, TLC (2013 – 2014)
The last show on the list is one that really brings a unique and unconventional approach to funerals to the table.
In Best Funeral Ever, the family at the helm of the Golden Gate Funeral Home in Dallas, Texas, strives to bring exactly what the title promises: the best funeral ever to the families that they promise to help make the grieving process a little easier.
No expense is spared, and each episode features an “extravagant and over-the-top” themed funeral to pay tribute to the recently deceased.
From costumes to barbecues, bowling, and even a 100-yard coffin dash, Best Funeral Ever is truly one for the books.