Shamelessly Raving

My friend Kira has provided me with incredible guidance and encouragement with this blog. We have similar tastes in popular culture, so when she told me how much she enjoyed the show Shameless, I was met with mixed emotions. She was the 2nd pop culture loving friend to mention this show to me. I was curious but apprehensive. I really have too many shows already. I long ago accepted that that I would need at least 3 lives to watch everything I want to. But when a show comes to me with such a strong recommendation from a friend, I will usually check it out. Darn, it is so good. Shameless is on Showtime in the US and  airs on TMN in Canada. Thank goodness for On Demand cable access. In the span of 1 week, not only did I blast through all 12 episodes of the first season but I am caught up on the first 4 episodes of the 2nd season as well.
Shameless is a faithful remake of a UK series that is currently airing its 9th series. William H. Macy (Fargo) stars as Frank Gallagher, the shiftless, narcisistic, alcoholic patriarch of the Gallagher family. The Gallagher clan live in Chicago’s south side. Having been abandonded by their mother 2 years prior, the Gallagher brood (ages 21 to 2) do their best to raise themselves and stay out of their father’s never ending drama. Fiona (Emmy Rossum) dropped out of high school to work various low skill jobs  in order to ensure that her siblings stay together (4 brothers and 1 sister). Every kid is expected to do their part. Their cunning resoursefulness provides much of the humour; as does the set decoration. With help from their neighbours, Veronica and Kevin, they manage to squeak by, month to month, no thanks to their father.
This is a hilarious, adult oriented (caution, lots of swearing and nudity) comedic drama that has larger than life, realistic, albeit exaggerated and sometimes outrageous characters who are in survival mode. Living this way seems to amplify inate character traits. Macy as Frank is utterly pathetic and a true user of everyone in his wake, family and acquaintances alike (can’t say freinds, as he has none). He makes me laugh, but his depiction is so real and despicable that my husband cannot stand to watch him. I think if you know someone like this, it may be too painful to watch on screen. The reason I watch is that I care about the kids, Fiona, Phillip (aka Lip), Ian, Carl, Debbie, and to a lesser degree baby Liam. Their poverty stifles their dreams, yet they continue to dream. Their support of each other is touching despite being up to their eyeballs in dysfunction. I watch, secretly hoping that they can break out of the cycle of poverty, but without enough guidance I have my doubts. I can certainly forgive their many transgressions.
Fiona’s sacrifices for her siblings are undeniable. But the cost is unfathomable until it is spelled out to her by her boyfriend Steve (Justin Chatwin). She will be 37 when Liam is old enough to leave the nest. When will she start living her life? Truth be told, as painful as it would be to separate this group of loving siblings, I can’t help but wonder if the younger 3 wouldn’t be better off in the care of social services. In the right environments perhaps, but social services is no guarantee of that. Love trumps all, even if that means that Carl may succeed in burning the house down someday.
I am a sucker for a dysfunctional family story and this is the best I have watched on TV since Arrested Development. It is not as laugh out loud funny, but it is pretty close. It has more heart; I care because the characters seem to care. The dialogue is very witty and the performances are real. Each character is uniquely damaged. As I get to know more about the Gallaghers and to a lesser degree, their neighbours Veronica and Kevin, I can’t help but wishing they will catch a break. Their love, their heartaches and their support is not always rational but it is palpable.  An added delight is Joan Cusack, who plays an agoraphobic neighbour. The soundtrack is like another member of the cast; edgy, gritty rock tunes playing in the background. It has everything I need and more. The season 1 DVD’s have already shipped; a solid addition to my collection. Thanks Kira!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: 2011 – 2012 TV Season Wrap Up – part 2 « What is Ann Watching?

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