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Shameless

Shameless is a comic drama about the impoverished Gallagher family living in suburban Chicago. Alcoholic-absentee father Frank is nominally patriarch of the family but the real work is done by daughter Fiona. Then Lip, Ian, Debbie, Carl and Liam make up the rest of the family. Showtime 2011 - ???

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Episode 10 - A Great Cause

18 August 2017

Synopsis: Monica finds the squirrel fund and she and Frank go on a shopping spree. After buying a car and loads of drugs she treats Debbie to some dolls and tries to get Ian to enlist. Steve is having Estefania's lover shipped into the company but loses his container. Fiona is seduced by Monica's temporary competence and takes a job at the club while also dreaming of college. Lip helps Ian clear up the issue of Mandy's pregnancy.

The Good: The squirrel fund has been the key to the whole season. The summer setting was designed to show the Gallagher's gathering money to live off when school restarted. The moment when Monica found it was a dramatic one. It was instantly clear that disaster would follow. Lip and Fiona's final scene confrontation was a good effort at capturing the ramifications of this but it wasn't enough.

The Bad: The big problem in this situation is that Fiona looks dumb. I pointed out last episode that she was foolish to trust Monica with baby Liam after her history of irresponsible behaviour. Now all it takes is two days of competence for Fiona to begin taking jobs and planning college courses. Maybe if Monica had been present and responsible all summer then I would have bought this. Instead Fiona looked criminally naive and her frustration at the end of the episode just wasn't earned.

Compounding the trust she placed in her mother was the fact that the squirrel fund was so easy to find. Considering what a crafty man Frank is it doesn't seem credible for a tin in the kitchen to be an effective hiding place. The sight of Fiona cleaning up the kitchen in business clothes should have been a poignant moment. Instead it felt more like she got what she deserved which was definitely not the intention of the story.

The rest of the episode was a massive disappointment. I've been complaining for most of the season about tonal inconsistencies. Sadly I began to feel a familiar note throughout this episode. I felt there was contempt for the working class subjects of the show and a desire to exploit the worst behaviour of people for comedy and convenience.

The revelation that Mandy's baby was the result of her father drunkenly forcing himself on her was deeply inappropriate. There is no way that story can be told in any other context than a dark, depressing and serious one. Instead Mandy claims it's no big deal and grins as she raises cash for an abortion. To trivialise that story makes it hard to take anything the show does with its minor characters seriously. I wasn't particularly pleased to see Lip go from taking responsibility for the baby to suggesting they frame Terry.

Frank and Monica were passable in their enabling love affair. I don't know why we needed the scenes with Frank being left to hitch hike. Monica's ignorant racist rant at the enlistment office may have served the story of her loss of competence but I felt there was an attempt at shock value too.

The same was clearly true in the pointless story of Steve smuggling Estefania's lover Marco into the country. Steve doesn't really belong on the show anymore. He remains a spoilt rich kid playing in games that are too big for him. There's no chance that he is going to be killed for messing with a drug boss' daughter and so the more she and Marco swore the more it was clear that this was just an attempt at humour that was bombing for its lack of any subtlety.

The crack addict who wound up at Sheila's door was pure shock value. The Priest basically pushes her into taking him in and then her first thought is to euthanise him. There's been no transition from Sheila being naive and moral to suddenly being willing to kill people to end their suffering. The deaf, dribbling, addict was a horribly exploitative idea to try and get us to laugh at the grossness of the imagery. When writing so shamelessly pushes for laughs like this I can't enjoy it.

The Unknown: The Kev and Veronica story finally started to irritate me too. They have become the Ari and Mrs Ari (Entourage) of Shameless. They argue, they make up, they have sex. That's all they do.

Best Moment: Lip did his best with the final row with Fiona. I can't fault his delivery of "hide the goddamn money" or "how'd that kool-aid taste going down?" But there's nothing he or Fiona could do to save this story from the mess it's become.

The Bottom Line: This reminded me True Blood. A show where the characters never change they just re-enact the same misery over and over again but with grosser or more extreme scenarios. If the producers want to make a tragic show about a family that will never rise above its miserable station that's fine. But that has to be treated with gravity and not flippancy. I'm not here to laugh at misery for its own sake. How is that fun?

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  • With all due respect, I don't think you understand the show very much. After everything, yes Fiona was naive but thats a part of her character. the pain her parents put her through is the reason she goes back to steve after everything and so it is not such a crazy thought that maybe, just maybe, she would want to take the opportunity to have even a day to have a normal life and trust her mother again because she has had to do so much from such a young age and so no its actually a very important part of her character. The revelation of Terry forcing himself onto Mandy was a dark topic but the reason she brushed it off was because after all of that, its a lot easier for rape victims to act like it was nothing because it fucking hurts like hell and its hard to admit that it happened (im speaking from expieriance.) which adds a lot of depth into understanding her character. Lip goes from taking responsibility to framing terry because he needed to provide Ian with a permanent solution that would cause Ian and him less harm. Kev and Veronica's relationship is showing what real relationships are like. It may not seem to thrilling, but in relationships you fight and make up. Thats the normality in showing what their relationship is and actually provides the model of a healthy relationship because though they have arguments they always forgive each other because they love each other. I will admit that Steve needs to butt the fuck out of the show. His character is pointless. the hospice patient Sheila gets does add comedic value because you know what, the show is a fucking comedy. but sheilas response to offering to end his suffering adds to the crazy nature her character has, and the way she "helped" Peggy. This show isnt just repeating the same situations or making fun of awful things, its showing what life is like in fucked up neighborhoods and people with actual problems. This isnt Pretty Little Liars, its not meant to be an edge of your seat show, its a lighthearted show about what life is like in southside with serious topics because life is fucking hard as shit and thats what they go through every day in shameless.

    Viewer score: 1 / 100

    Posted by Ivy Margrets, 17/08/2017 6:29pm (2 years ago)

  • This was one of the darker episodes, Chloe Webb does a fantastic job as a completely crazy/messed up Monica and it's really quite unnerving any time she is on screen...when you consider their parents, the Gallagher kids didn't turn out half bad (well, they're all pretty messed up but sheesh it could be worse!)

    Anyway, as usual another great episode, although I hope they can bring some of the lighter elements back. Oh and also as usual great music, especially glad to hear the two tracks from Middle Distance Runner ("Boxer" and "If It Bleeds") and Sydney Wayser ("Potions" and "Wake Up") - I've said forever this show by far has the best music usage and that continues to be the case week after week

    Viewer score: 85 / 100

    Posted by darci, 10/04/2012 11:17pm (8 years ago)

  • That's what the site is here for :-)

    That's a great anecdote to illustrate subjctivity. If Shameless were presented as "The Frank Show" where he just screwed everyone over for laughs that would be one thing. But the end of this episode makes it explicit that we are supposed to care about Lip and Fiona and see their plight as part of a drama story.

    So obviously my perspective is that if shocking things happen when I am watching a drama I take them seriously. I think the producers have fallen into the trap of assuming that they can balance the Sheila comedy with the Fiona tragedy and that the two can stand comfortably side by side.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 24/03/2012 5:15pm (8 years ago)

  • Not a great episode from a (unfortunately) meandering show.

    Going off of what Kayode said, I don't actually have a problem with Fiona being kept down. I think there are still ways to make her a successful or triumphant character while still trying to tell a story of how she was "kept down" lower than her potential. A very real story for many families in poverty, unfortunately. I think of a show like The Wire that so successfully showed the majority of its characters remaining in their world, rarely rising above their "class" or "level" in the material sense, yet having a ton of character movement in any given direction.

    I actually believe this episode could have had one of the most dramatic and profound moments of the series. If Fiona's arch of trying to get her GED and become something greater than a girl having a bunch of makeshift part time jobs had been a season long and gradual arch, then the confrontation with Lip could have been utterly devastating. Instead, her getting her GED was played off not very seriously and as a laughable bet with Lip. If she had just been inspired of her own accord to make something of herself...slowly but surely building confidence and excitement as she was learning she actually had the intelligence and know how to do something with herself episode by episode, then this payoff would have been huge. Instead she only finds that drive and confidence in the middle of this episode. It all happens too quickly for me to believe she was really set on a new path and that this blow...realizing she had to stay "down" and take care of her family...was as crushing as it was supposed to come off. It could have been a tragic and shattering moment, but instead the show can't figure out whether to take itself seriously or not.

    Just the other day I found out a coworker of mine watches many of the same shows we here at TheTVCritic.org do. She watches The Walking Dead, Spartacus, Parks and Rec, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Californication and....Shameless. We had an in depth conversation about most of these shows and when we talked about Shameless I was astonished to hear her take on it. She thinks it's just the funniest show ever and her favorite character, by far, is Frank. This was eye opening for me, because I never really believed that someone could walk away from this show thinking Frank was just the most amazing and hilarious character ever. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, but it drove home the point that TV viewing and enjoyment is so subjective. She is able to watch the show as a comedy she doesn't take very seriously, yet as I watch it I see a show that often times IS trying to be a drama, or is trying to show the plight of those forced into poverty and hard times by the circumstances they've been born into. Of course my first inclination is to argue that "I am right" in regards to my take on what the show is or isn't....but in the end, it's subjective! I at least believe that in a "it is what you take from it" sense. Entertainment is subjective, but the intent of the material, I would argue is not. The show has to have a clear intent or clear goal, and I think *that* is why we all come here to this website and others to discuss shows that we watch.

    I get on so many rambling tangents when I post here :P

    Posted by Brando, 24/03/2012 5:15pm (8 years ago)

  • Sadly, I have to agree with your review. This show has stopped being fun for a while. For such a street wise family to leave their stash of hard earned cash in such an obvious place makes me wonder about what the writers think of their audience. Especially with a father like Frank walking through the house.
    Another thing that bothers me is the insistence of keeping Fiona down, when she has an chance to rise above her plight. This show could still excel if it was about the struggle for upward mobility.
    Hope is something this show is sorely lacking, it could take the edge off the nastiness that has come to surround it.
    Thanks for the forum Robin

    Posted by Kayode from Baltimore, 24/03/2012 5:15pm (8 years ago)

  • True, he is laying it all on her while he sulks elsewhere. It would be a positive thing to come out of this season if the two of them end up working together like surrogate parents to fix this situation.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 24/03/2012 5:14pm (8 years ago)

  • I also think it was completely unbelieveable how quickly Fiona believed in Monica. But I had a real problem with Lip at the very end. The reason this family truly keeps breaking down is because everyone else does whatever the hell the fell like doing. And Fiona has to look after everyone else. Again, I don't believe Fiona believing in Monica, but Lip isn't a kid and Fiona wasn't off screwing around. It's the height of hypocrisy for him of all people laying into her about being responsible.

    Posted by henningirl, 24/03/2012 5:14pm (8 years ago)

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