I truly believe that you stumble on the right television show at the right time. I call it Divine Fandom. When I was struggling in both my personal and professional life, I somehow found Shameless—the Showtime drama about a dysfunctional family from the south side of Chicago that my best friend has begged me to watch for years. No matter what is happening in your life, I felt nothing but #blessed after seeing what the Gallaghers endure on a daily basis.
Within a week, I was six seasons deep into the drama that is equal parts crazy, heartwarming, hilarious and fantastic. It’s a shame how a show that is inclusive, that is as dark and twisted as Shameless, that is as expertly and sublimely acted has been mostly ignored by major award shows. Yet it also falls in line with the drama’s south side charm. The Gallaghers move heaven and earth just to survive, barely catch a break, so why would they expect any praise?
Here are 6 reasons—one for each Gallagher (psychotic half-sister Sammy doesn’t fucking count)—to binge Shameless before the start of Season 9 on September 9.
Emmy Rossum. Last week, Emmy Rossum shocked Gallagher nation when she announced that she and her doppelganger—matriarch Fiona Gallagher—was leaving Shameless after 9 seasons. Since I’m a newcomer, I’m a bit heartbroken, but I totally understand. Fiona is a force of nature. She has held her family together with determination, rage and a rough-hewn love that’s rarely seen and maintained on television for nearly a decade. Emmy Rossum is the same, filling Fiona with a fire and a grim possession that few actresses can pull off. But she’s never been honored with the accolades she so desperately deserves (literally she hasn’t been nominated for any major awards while William H. Macy who turns in lesser and more campy performances each season has been repeatedly nominated).
Fiona’s swan song might be the chance for Emmy to get her Emmy. Think of it this way: if she moves mountains just to keep her family together, it would have to take a hurricane-tsunami hybrid to take her away from them, right?
Come one come all. What does the starring casts of Frasier, Friends, Supernatural, and Will & Grace all have in common? The casts are all white and generally interact with only white people. I’ve spent my entire life watching and enjoying the stories of people who never looked like me. Despite being about a poor Irish family from the south side of Chicago, Shameless is motherfucking inclusive—gay, straight, black, white, handicapped, mentally ill, polyamorous, teen moms, addicts—odds are you are represented with a sobering amount of honesty and/or humor. It's a much-needed look at the people society forgets and misfortune preys upon.
The writing. It’s a fair assessment to say that Shameless has one of the best casts on television. Their chemistry and talent even rivals that of that of Emmy-nominated, This Is Us. Talent can only take a cast so far. The bleak beauty of Shameless lies in the no-holds-barred writing. From quotable, chuckle-inducing one-liners to unpredictable and intricate plotlines, Shameless—the comedy—has delivered some of the best dramatic arcs currently on television. Fight me.
OTPs. The only currency on Shameless—besides an alarming amount of weed, coke, and booze—is love, and this show has it in spades, even romantically. Fiona’s drug of choice is horrible men (my hatred of Jimmy-Steve-Jack would be longer than all of Frank Gallagher drunken monologues), the show is not without romance. The lovestory between Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan) and neighborhood lowlife Mickey Milkovich (the fantastic Noel Fisher) is one for the ages, and it puts an erotic spin on star-crossed lovers. Who would think that the neighborhood bully, the kid covered in dirt, tattoos and probably blood from his latest assault, would transform into an out gay man who tenderly takes care of his bipolar boyfriend?
While Mickey, a convicted attempted murderer, absconded to Mexico, Ian is left in Chicago attempting to find a man who can both excite him and sustain him in ways Mickey couldn’t. Caleb, the firefighter taught him about adult relationships, but was too dishonest and snobbish for a Gallagher. Trevor, a trans man, accepts Ian’s checkered past but might be a little too much of a dogooder for Ian. I’m wishing on an Albi barstool that somehow Mickey can come back for one last fling, bitch.
Thankfully, there is Kevin (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton). Their relationship has endured infertility, absorbed fetuses, and the addition of another entire person. They have a special bond that all of the others are attempting to replicate. And they don’t look half bad naked either.
The writing. It’s a fair assessment that Shameless has one of the best casts on television. Their chemistry and talent even rivals that of that of Emmy-nominated, This Is Us. Talent can only take a cast so far. The bleak beauty of Shameless lies in the no-holds-barred writing. From quotable, chuck-inducing one-liners to unpredictable and intricate plotlines, Shameless—the black comedy—has delivered some of the best dramatic arcs currently on television. Fight me.
Messy AF. It’s hard not to gasp at some of the painfully real moments in Shameless’ insane history. Whether it’s Fiona punching her mother’s corpse or Frank defecating on himself after a heroin overdose or Ian’s continual struggle with his bipolar disorder, Shameless is mired in the messiness of life, and therein lies the beauty. For example, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is a violent, alcoholic asshole, and they never shy away from that fact. There has been moments with all of the Gallagher children where I think, “they are downright feral" because they have never really been probably socialized. It’s so frustrating that I want to rip through the screen and beat some sense into him with a brick. But that’s what makes his victories, however small, incredibly gratifying, moreso than when Jack Bauer or Jack Ryan saves the world. That, unfortunately, realistically and beautifully, is humanity. And I’m glad to observe it from the comfort of my couch.
Shameless Season 9 premieres on September 9 on Showtime. You can binge watch it on the Showtime app or Netflix. Check out the trailer for the new season below.
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Small Screen Girl
I am an unabashed pop culture and TV-aholic with no plans to ever seek treatment. Explore this blog and see just how deep my obsession goes.