I read that Shameless is the most watched series on Netflix in America. Sherlock Holmes is the most watched Netflix show in England. This sparked my curiosity and so I binged watched Shameless this week—all 7 Seasons.
The first two seasons followed the British television series pretty closely in plot. Then the writers began to the the characters in new directions, which I liked. Overall, I found that identified with the characters in Shameless—at least to some degree. I didn’t exactly grow up in the Ghetto of a large city, but I have lived most of my life in poverty.
Unlike the Gallagher family, I was an only child and I was lucky that I had at least one parent that was there for me consistently. I couldn’t imagine how tough it would be to have both parents pretty much MIA. The kids had to grow up all too quick and learn to take care of each other. It is really a sad situation, but the show does find humor the chaotic moments when Frank or Monica reappears and tries to make up for their long periods of absence.
Frank Gallagher is meant to be a Philosopher Drunk, but in the first couple of seasons he isn’t very likable. As the series progresses, the character of Frank develops and he becomes more sympathetic. Seeing his cruel and crazy Mother in Season 2 helps explain why Frank is so messed up. But my favorite moment perhaps is his Eulogy for Monica in Season 7. We finally get to hear a bit about back story and realize that he once had a promising future that he threw away. He and Lip aren’t so different it seems. And though I could only imagine the frustration the kids felt at his antics, there are times you can see the heartbreak in Frank’s eyes when they yell at him and try to get him to leave.
Monica Gallagher is the love of Frank’s life, but she is Bipolar. She knows that she is not a very good Mom, which probably one the reasons she left. The kids are better off without her. Even still Monica can’t help but come around occasionally anyway. I think Frank’s relationship with Monica is the most dramatic and fun to watch. Frank’s relationship to Shelia is amusing though. I wasn’t very fond of his other lovers.
Fiona is fierce and for that I like her. She struggles to balance having fun with raising a family. And for a while, she manages to keep things from falling apart, but when Liam gets a hold of her coke and overdoses everything unravels. I liked watching her character arc for the most part. Although I understand why she must pull away and become her own woman, I found her reaction to the continuing family drama more than a little bitchy at times. I felt bad for Debs in particular.
I liked Jimmy Steve and his adventures. I was sad to see him go, but he did add to Fiona’s chaos. It was probably better that she didn’t end up with him even though he was handsome, charming and funny. I wasn’t particularly fond of Fiona’s string of lovers after that. He ex-husband was a real asshole. And though I like the actor Dylan McDermott, I wasn’t fond of his character. Jeffery Dean Morgan was supposed to play her manager love interest originally. I am curious how that would have looked if he’d stayed.
I suppose I identify the most with Lip, who is too smart to waste his life trapped in the tragedy of his childhood. Although he loves the company of fellow intellectuals in college, he never quite feels at home in the world of academia. Despite being happy to see him go to college, I still had a problem with the college plotline. The writers didn’t seem to understand how college works. Lip never seemed to be taking an entry level survey courses like Freshman English. He skipped right to Literary Criticism, which would be for Seniors or Graduates even. He also jumped right into Quantum Physics instead of taking Geology or Biology first. And, perhaps most importantly, he had a Teaching Assistantship even though Assistantships are generally not given to Undergraduates either.
Ian and Mickey’s relationship is incredibly passionate and heartbreaking. It was well developed and I found their deep bond believable. I liked Ian’s Bipolar arc for the most part. I think it added a lot of depth to character to watch him struggle. My only complaint is how frustrating it was to watch him as he moped around after he was released from the hospital. Seeing him become an EMT was nice, although I don’t think they ever addressed whether he got his GED or not. I’d imagine one needs at least a GED for the EMT job.
Carl seems pretty smart despite his delinquent ways. His entrepreneurial spirit is admirable even if it is misdirected. His thug phase was amusing at first, but it began to get old. Just as I was getting ready to give up on him, the writers made him evolve even more. Carl was shocked into the reality of how horrible Thug life can be when his friend Nick kills that little boy. It was tragic, but it really shaped Carl. It was wonderful to see him get into his first relationship and take an interest in police work. When he went off to Military School it made me think that there was still hope for this adorable little sociopath.
Debs didn’t have a lot to do early on, but as she evolved, she became one of my favorite characters. She is nurturing and loving in many ways, but as the mean girls in school made fun of her in middle school, she began to change. In the last two seasons we see Debs stealing and scamming like her mother, father and brothers have all done. We see her fierceness when defending her corner and when she is trying to get her baby back. When she finally settles with Neil, we see her become a caretaker like her old self and bossy like older sister Fiona.
Liam is always cute and quiet. Though Fiona cared for him as an infant, he went through the most caretakers of all the children. Shelia and Sammi helped watch Liam when everyone else was too busy to. In later seasons we see Frank taking more a role in his youngest son’s life. I was thrilled to see Frank get Liam into a good private school. Perhaps despite his chaotic early years, Liam will be able to have opportunities his siblings did not.
I liked the Russian Prostitute Svetlana’s spunk. She turned out to be an interesting character despite her dubious beginnings. Her relationship with Keven and V was hot and funny. She evolved during her time with them and grew to be likable—until she stole the Alibi at least. In any case, I always rooted for Kev and V. Kev is just a big lovable goof and his wife V is a strong black woman.
My least favorite characters are probably Karen and Sammi. I felt bad for Karen in many ways. She obviously had lots of issues, but she was pretty bitchy toward everyone. After she abandoned her baby, I’d given up on her. Although many feel it was just deserts when Mandy hits her with a car, I still felt sorry for her. I was conflicted about the Character of Mandy. Though Mandy was cold hearted at times, I felt she had some redeeming qualities—unlike her piece of shit father. Frank’s oldest daughter Sammi was annoying and grating from day one. She was definitely Jerry Springer material.
Shameless has no shortage of strange and memorable characters. The colorful characters are one of the main reasons to watch the show in my opinion. And though perhaps the first season or two wasn’t particularly strong, I appreciate how well everyone evolved and changed throughout the series.