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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 - ???


Episode 6 - Can I Have a Mother

7 March 2012

Credit Showtime

Synopsis: Peg Gallagher returns home after getting out of prison. She wants the money she was promised from her old meth dealing partner and takes Frank as her driver. Sheila struggles to make it past her banisters during Karen's wedding reception. Lip and Ian continue their feud. Steve brings his Brazilian wife on a double date with Fiona and Adam. Ethel's family tell her they are fighting to get her returned to them.

The Good: Nothing exactly though that doesn't mean this was all horrible.

The Bad: I thought this was poorly constructed. The episode dragged quite a bit and the emotional beats were all missed.

I wasn't clear how Peg was supposed to make me feel. The most obvious intent seemed to be to provide sympathy for Frank. We see that she is a horrible woman who was far more ruthless than Frank at making money through illegal means. She constantly berates him and treats Sheila and others like crap. However despite that picture she ended the episode as a sad old woman trying to spend her last few years getting to know her grandchildren. She gave them presents and some money for the house and that's more than Frank has done in a while.

It also doesn't help that Frank is well, Frank. He tried to rip Peg off to get his hands on her money and considered killing her. He also spent the whole episode scheming to get his hands on Eddie's pension money which doesn't make him and Peg that different. My lack of empathy for him means that his impotent rage directed at her felt empty. Frank needed to be painted in a far more sympathetic light for this story to work emotionally.

Instead Frank finally ran out of patience and ranted at Jody and exposed his lack of love for Sheila. Again I wasn't clear on whether the scales were falling fully from her eyes or if this was just a fight? If this was the moment when she understood the truth then it was deeply underwhelming and a real waste. Considering the effort the writers have put into their relationship I am staggered if that is the case. If we are now going to watch Frank get whipped by Peg then the rest of this season could be a real drag.

Ian and Lip's feud feels like the proverbial mountain built out of a molehill. A simple misunderstanding over the West Point application and some unkind words shouldn't be enough to cause a rift this emotional. If there had been a sense that there were other tensions before that incident then I could buy this but there weren't. On the contrary they were Fiona's rocks just two episodes ago.

Then we have the return of Steve\Jimmy. Like Frank I find it impossible to sympathise with him. Apparently he fled the country and decided that the drug game was the next logical step after stealing cars. How can I wish for him and Fiona to be together again which still feels like the intention of this?

The Unknown: Ethel's desire to both return to her religious family and honour her adoptive one was sweet. It's a bit disappointing if that is the end of her story. I can understand if the producers felt that they had too many characters to service but it still feels like an odd arc to have her pop in and out like this.

Without more explanation I don't know what to think of Lip's suggestion that Karen get an abortion. We also learn that MIA Tony now has a girlfriend he lives with. Where did that come from? Six episodes ago he said he was waiting for Fiona.

Best Moment: Frank bragging on his family was another moment which didn't come across clearly. Was the point that he actually cared about his children more than his mother cared for him? Her disinterest in them was then contradicted by her actual affection for them at episodes end. However in the midst of Frank's bragging he claims that Ian is a lady killer just like he was. It was a fun demonstration of his disconnection.

The Bottom Line: I thought this was a big mess. Pretty much every story was put together in such a way to contradict any emotional traction.



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  • Could well be

    Posted by The TV Critic, 20/03/2012 4:42pm (8 years ago)

  • Peg is faking love for the rest of her get them on her side...

    Posted by Joseph Stills, 20/03/2012 4:42pm (8 years ago)

  • Great comments, thank you for sharing.

    Absolutely love the paragraph about Jody. You really captured the issues with his character perfectly (and eloquently). That's such a smart observation that we actually see more of his affection for Sheila than for Karen.

    Really good stuff.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 20/03/2012 4:41pm (8 years ago)

  • I'm okay with characters having arcs and having struggles. I really hope they team behind the show has a solid plan behind the Gallaghers, though. Unfortunately I feel like they've made many of their strongest characters from season 1 seem a lot more unlikable. Fiona, Lip and Ian have all had runs that are starting to diminish my like for them...but for now I'll just trust that they're all on their own emotional journeys and will come out on the other end where I can still root for them. I was with Lip, even through his self destructive behavior, until he insensitively told Karen he wants her to get an abortion. The gap widening between them has been sad, though that in and of itself is not a criticism.

    I'm not sure what to make of Frank. I feel as though they have reined in his drunkenness this season, which has been good, but he is also a pretty despicable person. No matter how well they do at humanizing him or giving him some depth, I'm not sure those things can overcome the evil borne of his turning down the heart that would have gone to Dottie, or his blatant freeloading of Sheila. I was even okay with the Sheila part of it, happy to believe that while he was completely taking advantage of her, that he may actually care for her, too. They had a quirky thing going that seemed to bring at least some stability to Frank, but it looks as though there was no real love there on Frank's end, so that's disappointing.

    Karen and Jody hasn't been developed near well enough for me to by into how quickly she has put up emotional walls to block Lip out. The pregnancy gives reason now, sure, but I don't think that would have been reason enough for me at the beginning of it all because there was no reason to believe there was any contempt between the two of them. It's hard to navigate through the territory of their relationship, because while Lip has taken open advantage of her being a sex addict, he also does truly love her for who she is. I really like Jody's attitude toward Sheila and how he has integrated himself into the Jackson family, but I've never gotten much sense of the connection between Jody and Karen. For the beginning of the relationship the viewer was relegated to distant voyeur...just seeing the two interact through Lip's eyes. That doesn't make for an effective dramatic threat in my eyes, though. I'd much rather have seen the relationship between Karen and Jody. As it is we have no choice but to still root for Lip and view Jody as the guy who has gotten in the way. Is the relationship between Jody and Karen really vacant? It's an easy sell right now cause we never really see them interact, but I'd rather see than be told.

    I do like Debbie's arc so far. I thought it was endearing when she went to Mandy Milkovich to help her with her makeup. She's so young and innocent that your heart just breaks for her trying to so hard to fit in with the rest of the people around her, when really she is probably better off staying the old soul that she is.

    Ethel has been a mostly meaningless character, but I do love the scenes that it gives us with Kevin and how much he cares for her. I also have enjoyed her growing relationship with Malik. It has provided someone for her to relate to and talk to, but also someone who is off center enough for their connection to be believable. If she's gone for good, I think overall it will feel like a needless character from the start...but I actually don't feel like this is the end for her on this show.

    Giving Carl a partner in crime has been logical and also a good way to give Carl some screen time without having to center a whole episode around him.

    Steve is lame. I'm a little disappointed they brought him back. The actor doesn't have the charisma to carry the persona his character is supposed to have, and the chemistry between he and Fiona has never been convincing to me. I'm happy Debs told Fiona about the whole "Jimmy" thing.

    All in all I still very much enjoy watching this show. I do feel, however, that this second season has been a step down from the first season so far. It's far more many characters and stories and the disparity between the comedy and the very dark moments has grown even more apparent. I also feel like Ian has really been lost in the shuffle big time this season, and that's too bad...he was such a strong character in season 1.

    Posted by Brando, 20/03/2012 4:41pm (8 years ago)

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