When death is your business, what is your life? The hit HBO series takes a darkly comic look at a dysfunctional L.A. family that runs a funeral business. In Season One, the death of the Fisher patriarch leads to big changes for the rest of the family.
Los Angeles, Christmas Eve, Nathaniel Fisher, owner of the Fisher and Sons Funeral Home, is killed when a municipal bus broadsides his new hearse. The tragedy casts a pall on the holiday homecoming of son Nate (who works for an organic food co-op in Seattle), as he must not only deal with the death of a father, but the fragile egos of mother Ruth (who has been having a secret affair with her hairdresser, Hiram), brother David (a closet homosexual seeing a black policeman named Keith), and a sister Claire (a rebellious high-schooler who receives the bad news after dropping crystal meth with new boyfriend Gabe). The only good thing to happen to Nate is Brenda, a passionate women he met on the plane, just before learning of his father's death. At home, David eschews the talents of his young mortician, Fredrico, to personally undo the damage of his dad's accident. The ensuing funeral leaves the family's deepest emotions exposed, and calls into question some of our more absurd rites of passage. At the gravesite, David is not amused by the advances of Matthew Gilardi of Kroehner Service Corporation, a funeral- home conglomerate looking to buy out the Fishers business. As for senior Nathaniel, he may have been laid to rest- but has plenty left to reveal to his family.
The inventor of a franchise pyramid scheme dies in a pool accident, leaving his widow and infant daughter with a mountain of debts and no money for a proper funeral. Nate offers a solution: rent a top-line casket, then cremate the body after viewing. There's just one problem: by law, a used casket cannot be re-sold. At the reading of Mr. Fisher's will, Ruth gets cash, stocks and insurance money, Nate and David split the funeral business (much to David's chagrin), and Claire gets college tuition, which she considers trading for cash. Later, Nate learns the meaning of "Angel Lust," Ruth breaks up with Hiram during a nature hike, David receives an unexpected visit from his ex-fiancee Jennifer, and Gabe gets Claire to suck on his toes in the back of her hearse.
A bakery owner meets an unsavory demise - and it's up to Fredrico to put the pieces back together. The Fishers decide to sell out to Kroehner, but Nate backs down after meeting with "that greedy little Nazi f*&@k," Gilardi. Claire finds a disturbingly apropos way to pay Gabe back for blabbing to the school about her toe-sucking exploits. A vengeful Gilardi tells Nate that Kroehner has bought the abandoned house across the street, and plans on turning it into a cheap crematorium. Looking for a way to feel "alive," Ruth visits the horse track with best friend Amelia, but loses a bundle. After Nate and Brenda make love in the Kroehner house, it suspiciously catches fire.
A Mexican-American gang member is killed, and the Fishers find that the family's wishes for burial are at odds with those of the gang's leader, Powerful. Meanwhile, with arson investigators breathing down the family's neck, Nate, David and Ruth wonder if Claire might have had something to do with the fire across the street. Brenda arrives for her first dinner at the Fishers, but fails to make a favorable impression with Ruth. And David gets courage from an unexpected source to end a feud with Keith - and stand up to Gilardi's threat to destroy the Fisher's business.
The death of a porno queen shocks Ruth, who is not prepared for the crush of co-stars who arrive at the Fisher's home to eulogize the fallen star. Keith takes issue with David's desire to replace his father as deacon at the family church. Claire and Ruth attempt to spend some more quality time together, and make a spontaneous visit to their cousins' Cleaverian home. Nate has dinner, sans Brenda, with her psychiatrist parents Bernard and Margaret, and has an unsettling first encounter with her brother Billy.
An ornery grieving widow camps out in the Fisher Funeral Home after the death of his wife of 56 years. Sparks fly when Claire meets Brenda's brother Billy. Ruth spurns Hiram after running into him at a church; later, she's wooed by Nikolai, the Fishers' Russian florist. While serving church meals to the homeless, David finds himself pursued by pushy divorced parishioner Tracy Montrose Blair. And an examination of funeral-home receipts leads Nate to uncover some of his father's secrets - including a mysterious room that he bartered in exchange for a funeral.
When a young Army veteran dies of Gulf War syndrome, his embittered brother decides to eschew a military funeral in favor of a simple cremation and disposal. Ruth invites Hiram over to cook dinner, then takes a job working for Nikolai. David casts the swing vote in the church search committee's decision to hire a progressive young associate priest. Claire has trouble recognizing the value of algebra at school and in her life. Nate and Brenda plan to spend their first weekend away, but Billy has other ideas.
With a lull in business at Fisher's, Nate and David decide to rent out a room at the funeral home to make some extra income, and Rico is tempted to take on some extra work at Kroehner's. Claire struggles to grasp the lessons of her outreach hike in the mountains, and Ruth struggles to reconcile her feelings toward Hiram with her need for excitement. Connor, a longtime Aussie friend of Brenda's, gets under Nate's skin. David's mood is buoyed by some good news: a bus crash has killed scores, and many of them are local!
A tragedy reunites Claire with Gabe, the "foot guy" who sullied her reputation at school. David and new boyfriend Kurt explore the disco circuit. To improve Nate's sales skills, Brenda suggests they pose as bereaved relatives at several funeral homes in the area. Ruth finds a weekend camping trip with Hiram to be an eye-opening experience.
Nate and David decide to hire a replacement for Rico: Angela (Illeana Douglas), who does good work and speaks her mind - too well. Billy has a gallery exhibit for some recent photos, including one taken of a surprising (and surprised) subject. David reacquaints with Keith, Ruth dines with Nikolai, and Claire frets over Gabe's inconsistent behavior.
David, Nate and Brenda travel to Las Vegas to attend a funeral directors conference, and experience the highs and lows of Sin City. Ruth takes a floral-arrangement class, and learns to listen to her inner self. A baby's death from SIDS cast a pall over the Fisher and Sons return of Rico, whose wife is pregnant with the couple's second child.
The homophobic killing of a gay man forces David to confront his own fears about his lifestyle - and life choices. After a particularly sick "joke" by Billy, Nate agrees with Brenda's parents that Billy should be institutionalized, but Brenda isn't convinced - yet. Ruth shares a secret about her love life with fellow florist Robbie, Claire shares a secret about Gabe with her school shrink, and David shares a secret about himself with his mother.
David and the rest of the Fishers experience the control-freak side of Tracy Montrose Blaire when she envisions a "resplendent" funeral for her dearly departed Aunt Lilian. Brenda visits a remorseful Billy in the institution, then gets into an argument with Nate that has some serious repercussions. David is forced to take a stand at church when he and the other deacons are told that Father Jack has been presiding over same-sex marriages. Gabe reverts to some bad habits when he and Claire attend a party hosted by her sometime friend Parker. Ruth closes one door on Hiram, and opens another with Nikolai. And Rico celebrates his son's christening with a spirited reception at Fisher and Sons Funeral Home.