This Sunday marks the return of one of my favorite television shows and I couldn’t be more amped! I’ve noticed that this show has remained a relative secret (which is mega unfortunate) even though it has a wide fan base on Tumblr. I’m talking about the Showtime original dramedy Shameless. It’s based on the UK show of the same name, but even many Brits agree our version is better. In my mind it’s hands down one of the best premium cable television shows on air right now and too many people are missing out on pure gold. The sleeper hit has been gaining traction every year and entering it’s fifth season it’s ready more now than ever to take over the prime Sunday night spot.
Shameless focuses on the extremely dysfunctional Gallagher family and their close knit group of friends living in the south side of Chicago. They’re all dirt poor with bad reps and a string of shit luck to their names, but the infamous motto of the Gallagher clan is “Nobody fucks with the Gallaghers.” They mean their motto too, nothing stands in the way of having a good time with the little they have and at the end of the day there’s a genuine love for each other.
The Gallagher family is an interesting bunch to say the least. Patriarch Frank is a scheming drunk of a deadbeat who will do anything with his lax morals for his next drink and get-rich quick ideas. The matriarch of the family, Monica, is even worse due to her long periods of absence as her ever-changing emotions and ideas take her in and out of town. Due to the not so great parental units, Fiona the eldest sister was forced at 16 to become the stable leader of the family. Being in charge doesn’t mean she hasn’t had her fair share of struggles – with her penchant for bad boys and even worse decisions. Lip is a genius with a bright future if his constant smart ass remarks don’t get him in trouble first. Using the brains that he has, Lip started selling marijuana out of an old ice cream truck to pay for his future education. Ian is quiet and coming to terms with his sexuality as a gay man. The army is in his future if his dreams and constant training do him justice. The Gallagher with the biggest heart is Debbie, who constantly looks out for her family and forgives them for their faults. That well-natured behavior gets challenged as she struggles coming into womanhood. Carl, well Carl has shown signs of psychopathic tendencies – but he’s got meaningful intentions. As one of the two youngest Gallaghers, he hasn’t yet wised to Frank’s up-to-no-good ways and often gets brought into situations way over his head. Of course there’s Liam, the baby of the bunch but honestly he’s just there for the cute appeal until a few dramatic story lines involve him later down the line.
We couldn’t forget the many neighbors and friends that complete the oddball group of Shameless. Living next door to the Gallaghers are Kev and Vee, Fiona’s best friends and one of the couples tied for cutest on the show. Their relationship may be the closest thing to relative normalcy the show has. Vee is known for her witty mouth and advice when Fiona gets into a tricky spot and her better half Kev may not be the brightest, but he’s the sweetest. Owner of the Alibi Room (aka the ONLY bar Frank hasn’t been banned from) he’s always good for a laugh or heart to heart. Fiona’s love interest Steve is never quite what he seems and throws you consistent curveballs – that’s about all I can say without spoiling too much. Just trust me Steve leaves you with many “WTF!” moments of shock throughout the series. There’s Sheila and Karen Jackson who get involved with more than one Gallagher and their ill-considered plans. Mother and daughter, Sheila is a severe agorophobic germaphobe and Karen is a full of spite and built up armor. Rounding it out is the ever interesting Milkovich family. Even more poor and possibly even more screwed up than the Gallaghers. Mickey is a foul-mouthed and aggressive neighborhood bully that is just trying to accept himself and protect himself from his bigoted and abusive father. His sister Mandy becomes best friends with Ian after agreeing to be his beard. She’s known to be a tough girl, but just like her brother it’s all a protective act.
The best part is there’s even more random occurring characters that pop up and make their screen time worth it. Especially the regulars at The Alibi Room.
I will say that if you couldn’t tell from the above few paragraphs Shameless is a show with VERY dark humor. It is definitely not going to be everybody’s cup of tea.
6 Reasons Why Shameless is Must-Watch Television
1) It’s unbelievably entertaining! I can’t think of a single episode of Shameless where I was bored. Each sixty minute episode is jam packed with crazy story lines and antics. Think the scripted version of Jerry Springer with a little bit more heart and you’d have Shameless. One moment you’ll be laughing at Lip teaching Liam that hipsters live in dorms and crying the next when the Gallagher family witness their mother self-destructing. It walks the gap between comedy and drama in a beautiful way. Not to mention it’s full of perfect one-liners.
2) A woefully underrated cast that provides stellar acting in every performance. William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum headline the show in the roles of the two lead protagonists. That alone should be enough star power to prove the acting credentials of Shameless. The biggest and best surprise is that Macy and Rossum are often outshined by a few breakout stars in the cast that have used the show to blossom in their acting abilities. Particularly Noel Fisher in his role as Mickey Milkovich. His performance is captivating and a site to watch. It’s a travesty this show and especially the cast hasn’t been award recognized more at award shows.
3) Each character is complex. You know those shows where only one or two characters have substance and the rest are just there? That’s not the case with Shameless. Every character introduced has their own set of quirks and fully formed stories. While the show focuses on the Gallagher clan, even the outlying characters are well managed. Nobody in Shameless is a saint, far from it. No matter how intensely flawed everyone is you still find yourself cheering for them because they are genuine human beings with redeeming qualities too.
4) Shameless deals with real life issues that are often forgotten and overlooked. Amongst all the laughter and mad story lines there are the grains of discussion about the culture we live in. Episodes have been focused on the impact of poverty, addiction and dependency, closeting and homophobia, struggling to overcome societal barriers, and mental health to name a few of the most prevalent topics.
5) Ian Gallagher and Mickey Milkovich’s Relationship. Enough said! I’m almost positive I’ve never cried this much over a fictitious relationship before. A few of the most heartbreaking romantic scenes on television occur between the two of them. I may have never cheered as hard as I do when things go well either. Ian and Mickey from the start are a very odd couple that break down many of the gay stereotypes. The easiest way to describe their relationship is complicated. It’s so easy to get committed to these two. I mean, even the entire cast has tweeted how much Gallavich (the fandom coined term for their relationship) is their favorite to see on screen.
6) Did I mention Mickey Milkovich? Now THERE’S a character who has seen incredible transition, growth, and evolution. When you first meet him he’s a dirty Snickers stealing thug, but slowly more and more layers are revealed. As Mickey begins to let his guard down his flaws are what make the character so intriguing. You never feel like you’re going to fall in love with the neighborhood thug, but then Mickey has a confrontation with his father and you understand the true weight behind the situation he’s grown up in. It doesn’t hurt that Mickey also proves to be quite hilarious when he does speak.
Still not convinced? Watch the Shameless intro to get a good sense of the show.
I know what I’ll be doing this weekend – binge watching Shameless to catch up in time for the season five premiere! Catch it this Sunday on Showtime at 9pm ET.
If you’re a fan of the show, why do you love it?
What are other underrated shows that you think deserve more attention?
P.S. – There’s nothing quite like Shameless on my blog, so read about my issues with Lana del Rey and her shameless behavior. (See what I did there?)
Enjoy what you read? LIKE the Kati Rose Constantly Seeking Wonder Facebook page to stay updated! You’ll earn my eternal love and gratitude too.
Until next time,