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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 - ???

55
/100

Episode 8 - Parenthood

7 March 2012

Synopsis: Fiona insists that Lip go back to school. He agrees to only when she does too. As she prepares to take the GED he helps Karen look for a couple to adopt their baby. Jody patiently lives in the tent while sneaking into the house in the day to help Sheila take care of Peg. Peg tries to kill herself and finally asks Sheila to hold a pillow over her face. Frank wallows in the misery\joy of losing his mother and takes drugs to pass the time. He also walks in on Mickey and Ian having sex. Mickey quits his job and plans to kill Frank. Carl loses his football coach but Steve steps in.

The Good: This repaired some of the damage of the last two episodes.

Lip's performance throughout was excellent and helped carry two stories at once. His desire to prevent his child from suffering through the same upbringing that he had is deeply admirable. Karen's indifference to the fate of the baby clearly weighed heavily on him. It seemed like he might try and persuade her to keep it but then it also appeared like the penny might be dropping on what kind of a person she really is. Adding to his confusion was the return to school. He clearly doesn't want to be there even if he didn't have Karen to worry about.

His two confrontations with Fiona neatly bookended the episode. The two of them brought the emotion to both situations and it was emotive to see the pressure Lip feels. Kev's friendly joke that Lip should go be a genius so that they can all sponge off him was cunningly written. Lip is now the same age as Fiona was when she dropped out of school and yet he is expected to be different. Perhaps he would treat Fiona differently if he knew of the job offers she is turning down. Lip is the best thing about the show right now and I hope the writers follow up on this.

I was pleased with the presentation of Jody who effortlessly drew sympathy. His kind hearted behaviour and selfless energy make it clear that the character hasn't really changed. Sheila was typically kind too in looking after Peg.

Steve began his reintegration into the show properly here taking up the same role he had last season. I was fine with the football coach story especially as it gave a positive outlet for Carl's aggression. It was good to see that Estefania doesn't really buy into any of her relationship with Steve either.

The Bad: For the second time this season a character was euthanised. I don't know why the writers think that's funny. It's hardly the most offensive thing on TV but I don't see the comedy in it. Peg was a black hole on the show because there was no way I could feel sympathy for such a horrible woman and yet her situation was pitiful. It's been a weird arc for Frank too who once again was out looking for sympathy. As with Peg there's no way he can receive any at this point and so I wasn't sure what to make of his drug induced haze.

I wish the Lip story had had more time to come naturally to this point. The pointless side plot with Ian took up time and then we had the weird Karen 'turn' last episode. It meant that his reaction to being back at school felt abrupt rather than organic. In a way I wish the adoption story could have been separated out too but perhaps that was important in building his sense of stress.

The Unknown: I didn't know what to make of Mickey sparing Frank and heading back to prison. I suppose the easy conclusion would be that he really does have feelings for Ian and would rather just be a f*ck up than have to deal with coming out. I feel like that story needed more time to develop and struggled to fit tonally into what Shameless has become. With Peg and Frank making it so hard to know what the producers are going for we suddenly had to accept that Mickey and his brothers were all cold blooded murderers ready to take someone down at the drop of a hat. With two deaths already this season and Frank's sudden turn to drugs it feels like the writers are trying to cram in as many shocking ideas as possible into the show rather than pacing them out to extract maximum value.

Karen's callous attitude seems to cement her as a hate figure. It's hard to argue with her greed in general. She comes from a poor background and if someone is willing to pay for a baby then why wouldn't she cash in? But her utterly crass attitude toward the baby and her own level of culpability pushed things over the edge. Coupled with her outrageous treatment of Jody we are clearly meant to not like her at all. I don't yet see the value in this. She is Sheila's daughter and she remains the nicest character on the show. I can't see good TV coming from her realising what a monster she is living with.

The fact that Frank and Sheila are still together means she didn't take in the full implications of his rant at Jody last episode. I suppose that's better than having him kicked out without it being the culmination of a major story. Frank's out of nowhere visit to his ex Monica will hopefully give us something out of Peg's visit.

Best Moment: Lip's guidance counsellor Mr Healy comes to talk to him about his potential.
Mr Healy: "I had a teacher take a special interest in me, when I was your age."
Lip: "I'm sorry to hear that. Did he use a condom?"

The Bottom Line: I can only repeat my complaint about most of this season: there's too much going on. That might not be a problem if there was tonal consistency but there isn't. The different stories are hitting quite different emotional or comedic notes and it's leading to exhausting and unsatisfying viewing. This was better than the last few have been but it should be.

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Comments

  • Interesting point about the subtitles. I hadn't considered that. I understood that she wasn't in love with Steve so I've never viewed her as more than a transitory figure.

    Completely agree about the Frank-Sheila situation.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 20/03/2012 4:45pm (8 years ago)

  • I thought for the most part this was a really good episode. It was a great episode overall for Lip, Sheila, Jodi, Kev, Peg and even Carl. I agree that Peg was unsympathetic, but for what it's worth I think the actress was very strong in the role she was asked to play.

    Showing Carl running around and thriving at football was great for the show. It gave screen time and development to a minor character without asking him to act, but also provided a backdrop for other characters to carry on their stories. Quick intermittent shots of him playing football was a good use of Carl, yet the focus of those scenes were other characters. I really liked that.

    Karen is becoming even more unlikable, but it was at least in a more believable and natural way in this episode as opposed to the extreme characterizations of her and Jodi last episode.

    I really really wish they could have broken Karen and Jodi apart without making him look like a total fool in the last episode. It's plenty fine for her not to be in love with him, yet keep the characters the same. I really liked that this episode got back to the Jodi we've come to know.

    I thought the resolution to Mickey's current involvement in the show was satisfying. He gave in to whatever bit of actual feelings he had, yet would rather ride it out in Juvy than have to deal with it all in everyday life. Believable resolution and hopefully it will free Ian up to be involved in the show in a more meaningful way now.

    The weakness in this episode, for me, came in the form of writing tricks rather than actual scenes. Much like making Jodi look like a fool through gimmicks in the last episode, they used a gimmick for us to automatically dislike Steve's wife. Not that it was up for debate anyway, but by using the gimmick of giving us subtitles for the first time, we are clearly meant to dislike her and celebrate her inevitable departure. It's fine if she's saying all of those things, but giving us the subtitles and putting that distance in there for us is just a lame writer's gimmick to me that's meant to help us root for Fiona and Steve again.

    I also disliked the writer's tricks in just forgetting that Sheila had realized what Frank was up to, kicking him out. Now they're fine and it's as though that confrontation never happened. I'm all for the fact that we're supposed believe that we're only getting a weekly look into these lives..and so somethings happen off screen that we're not privy to. That's fine and it's happened in many shows before. But the problem with that formula is when you have major developments either created or erased off screen. There is no resolution, catharsis or even acknowledgment to Sheila kicking Frank out...so I am left to feel as though I'm supposed to pretend it never happened in order to watch and buy into what happened in the current episode.

    Posted by Brando, 20/03/2012 4:45pm (8 years ago)

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