By: Derek Lawton
I have never been one to watch Netflix or binge watch shows but about a year ago I came across “Shameless.” None of my friends watched the show so I did not know much about it, but as the semester was slowing down I had some free time on my hands and thought I would give it a shot. At first I liked the show but was not hooked. As time went on and when I reached season three the show reeled me in. It turns out I had more time on my hands than I thought. “Shameless” just aired season seven this fall on Showtime and I already caught up. Not being able to binge watch and wait for a new episode to air every Sunday was tougher than I thought it was going to be. It was somewhat sad going home and turning on the television to watch “Shameless” it was usually the highlight of my week.
If you love everything that is wrong with the world today, then “Shameless” is the show for you!
Shameless, which made its debut in January of 2011 is unlike any show I have ever seen. It depicts a family of seven from the low-income part of Chicago’s South side. They are a white family of seven that are the most dysfunctional family you will meet. The father of all of them and the main character Frank is a raging alcoholic and does little for the family making them fend for themselves, financially, physically, and emotionally. You can either find him drinking at the local hole in the wall “The Alibi” or scheming a way to make money illegally. The daughter of Frank, Fiona is considered the mother of the household taking on more tasks than she can handle but somehow manages to keep the family intact. The oldest son Lip and the brains of the family is considered to be the father figure of the family due to Frank’s lack of presence. Although, Lip is a brilliant kid he struggles with the pressures life throws at him, which leads him down a slippery slope. Ian the third of the Gallagher children is the one character that develops most over the seven seasons. He struggles fitting in and dealing with the adversity of being homosexual and bipolar. He finds himself involved in many gigs over the seasons but finally finds himself in season seven. Debbie who is the middle child in the family. Debbie is one of the more simpler characters in the show and tends to not lash out as much as her siblings. She deals with teenage issues throughout the show, which in part are due to the fact she lacks a mother figure. You will find that she is more mature than her peers, which is why she continuously has a hard time fitting in. My personal favorite character Carl always seems to find trouble. He is constantly a nuisance at school and continuously finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Lastly, Liam who is the youngest child in the family is always around but does not play an important role in the show due to his lack of verbal communication. He is also half African American but somehow was conceived by two white parents. Shameless may not always be practical in this regard but sure does a good job in getting the reader’s attention.
What drew me into the show was its “surprise factor.” You never know what you are in store for with each episode becoming more and more absurd. It has the ability to entertain and leave its audience in amazement. Shows on TV are all becoming the same and lack originality and originality is what makes Shameless. Also, the character’s growth throughout the seasons is another reason why I fell in love with this show, not the overall storyline. Every character is so different and unique and seeing them grow up every season is an amazing experience.
Shameless relies on its humor to captivate its audience but it also uses poignant sentimentality. This is where Shameless separates itself from other sitcoms. Many sitcoms do not do a good enough job using both these emotions. People like to laugh and find humor to be appealing but at the end of the day we are all human and have emotions. The writers of Shameless do not hesitate to show the poverty-stricken environment the Gallagher’s grow up in or the challenges they face. It shows real life struggles poor families go through and that life is not always fair. Some of what goes on in the show may be over the top but this is what gives the show its humor. It partially makes me feel good about myself and grateful being raised and surrounded by my loving family and friends. Every family has their problems but Shameless takes these problems to a whole other level I think many viewers can agree with me but sadly Shameless connects its audience to a more real American actuality. Families for so many years have always been perceived as having two parent households that go on to have children and live perfect lives. Shameless denies this stereotype when it shows us that families are not all like this anymore and can be dysfunctional. This is one of many examples of stereotypes that Shameless denies.
I believe Frank is what makes the show and without Frank the show would not be the same, even though I am not the biggest fan of him. His witty comments and ability to bring a group together….” even if it’s for the wrong reasons” ….is amazing to me. I believe him and Lip have very similar personalities and this is what makes them so likeable. In season seven when the local shelter was closing its door and Frank finagled his way into getting his hands on a new house in the neighbored for everyone was pure genius. It was genius but he did eventually get caught stealing from the homeless people in his house. This reminded me of Lip, though Lip would never do something that cruel but it showed how similar he is to his father. For example, when he got an internship at the database company he was the only one smart enough to figure out how they were stealing money from their customers. He stayed late at work one night and hacked into their system to see what they were up to. In the earlier season Lip helped out the family financially when he came up with a plan to sell pot out of a pastel-colored ice cream truck fooling the authorities. Only Frank and Lip would come up with brilliant ideas like that. This is what makes Frank and Lip my favorite characters in the show.
Shameless is not going to be everyone’s favorite show but if you like crazy unpredictable shows this is the one for you!