The members of the Wissmiller family, three amiable women and their cantankerous father, make this reality spin on “Six Feet Under” a frothy take on the death business. The characters aren’t exposed the way their fictional counterparts are on HBO — these people are considerably more lighthearted. The filmmakers, instead, carefully distinguish each family member’s role in the mortuary biz and in their conjoined life, making “Family Plots” a fun little diversion.
“Family Plots” has a natural feel — no jokes, no ghastly responses to dead bodies or grieving relatives. It’s a crew of people maintaining deadlines, providing a service and dealing with death on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Show’s on par with Showtime’s vastly improved porn series “Family Business”; just as there’s little titillating in “Business,” there’s nothing grisly in “Plots.”
Skein is shot in a convincing fly-on-the-wall style. The six or seven participants seem rarely aware of the camera’s presence — a significant departure from shows such as “Airplane” or “The Restaurant.” Shonna, the embalmer, is the most reflective of the batch. She bosses around her gruff father, Chuck, a former boxer who still trains youths, and rides herd on the operations; everyone seems relatively adept at their jobs — no superstars, no goldbrickers.
The Poway Bernardo Mortuary might as well be a delivery service, just with a different set of orders: “burials, ship-outs and cremations” — in case you were wondering, the order of priorities in the mortuary business. Episode two, airing at 9:30 p.m., finds them dealing with stress in different ways, and slowly but surely, an intriguing family portrait — one that viewers can identify with — emerges.