Shameless: Season One
Slot: Sunday nights, 10pm
Shameless is a Showtime series which originated in the U.K. in 2004. It was adapted as a Showtime series in 2009 and debuted on Showtime on January 2011.
The heavy advertising (some of their promos timed out at ten minutes) before and after my favorite show Dexter at first made me leery of the show. It showed a drunk William Macy running around a bonfire and in the streets. However, it was a worth a shot as Dexter was ending and Shameless was positioned in the time slot right after Californication (yet another favorite).
I am a huge fan of almost all Showtime’s shows for the way they seem to push the envelope in more ways than one. Shameless was no exception. The first episodes depicted a somewhat non-conventional family consisting of six kids basically raising themselves after their mom leaves them and their dad goes off to become the town drunk. The cast focuses on Fiona, the twenty-something sister who has taken over the motherly role to her five younger siblings. Lip, the second oldest who seems the most angry at his mother’s departure, balances being a super smart kid with his rebellious nature. Ian, a teenager struggling with his sexuality and desire to join the military; Debs, a young girl who expresses more maturity than the adults around her and whom also seems to take on a motherly role; Carl, a young boy who enjoys blowing things up and getting into trouble; and Liam, the two-year-old baby who is of an African-American ethnicity which the show has yet to explain.
Frank Gallagher is the dad who is played by the amazing William H. Macy. He took this character of a selfish, drunk dad and made it into someone whom the audience can’t help but to fall in love with. Even throughout his crazy expenditures and ideas; one is always (sometimes involuntarily) rooting for Frank. He makes no qualms about bouncing in and out of his children’s lives whether it be when he is running from the cops or needs to fake his own death to avoid repaying people he owes money to.
The supporting cast is exceptional considering that only one of them had any significant experience before this show. Joan Cusack (sister of John Cusack) has an impressive comedic background having been part of the Saturday Night Live cast back in 1985. Cusack plays Shelia, an incredibly sweet woman who suffers from agoraphobia and is deathly afraid of leaving the house. Her daughter Karen, is known for being slightly slutty and Lip’s best friend. Shelia starts off the season in short appearances but by mid-season she has become a central part of the plot. Cusack’s portrayal of a neurotic yet sweet housewife deserves a Best Supporting Actress role if you ask me.
The other two main supporting characters are Veronica and Kev. They are a young couple that live next door to the Gallaghers’ and are usually involved in whatever drama is occurring. Kev works as a bartender at frank’s go-to bar so he sees firsthand the trainwreck that is Frank and how his alcoholism affects his kids. Veronica is Fiona’s best friend and helps her with the kids while being her support system for not losing her sanity. They both see what Frank’s absence does to his kids and in some ways try to fill that void.
The last somewhat major character is Fiona’s boyfriend Steve. He started perusing her in the first episode and throughout the season they hold a somewhat stormy relationship. He brings a voice of reason to Fiona and seems to enjoy helping out with the rest of the kids. However, things aren’t also quite as they seem with him.
The show showcases six kids struggling to survive on their own with only limited guidelines. It is a dark comedy in the fact that not an episode goes by without humorous events occurring yet the sadness and anger felt towards their home situation is clearly portrayed.
I cannot wait for season two and I have no doubt that it will be as witty and heartfelt as season one has been. If you have Showtime on Demand I really suggest checking it out. It should be up on Netflix in a couple of months or you can just stream episodes from Showtime’s website.
The best television show of the year so far.