It’s the voyeuristic nature of reality television that makes it appealing to most viewers, but sometimes peering into the lives of others can veer into invasive, unsettling territory. The new series “Best Funeral Ever” seems to straddle the border between intriguing and disturbing. The reality show, which debuted on TLC last night has a morbid premise in which viewers follow CEO John Beckwith Jr. and the staff at the Golden Gate Funeral Home in Dallas, Texas, as they plan funerals under the philosophy is “Whatever the family wants, we’ll do.”
Last night’s episode showed the funeral of Willie McCoy, who became famous for singing the iconic jingle for Chili’s baby back ribs. The service had a barbecue theme which included the pastor donning a Chef’s hat, praise dancers, live pigs and a barbecue sauce fountain in which loved ones dip ribs to pay their respects. Pallbearers sang the jingle McCoy was famous for while they carried his casket. Another service had a flamboyant Christmas-eve themed celebration replete with live animals and yet another embraced a State-Fair theme for a man whose disability prevented him from riding roller coasters .
The theatrics of the ceremonies are only heightened by professional mourners, who are hired to cry, shout and scream to incite mourning at the event. The Golden Gate Funeral Home says the professional mourners enhance the aura of the service and are even referenced in the Bible.
The funeral home calls their over-the-top services “our version of the traditional African-American homegoing celebration.” As entertaining as they might be for some, others take issue with the show’s premise and feel it’s exploitation at its very worst.