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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 - ???

59
/100

Episode 2 - Summer Loving

28 March 2012

Credit Showtime

Synopsis: As Sheila grows in confidence Frank seeks out a new home. When he learns of former bar-fly Dottie's sick heart he swoops in and tries to win her over. Debbie kicks Liam out of her room and refuses to let Fiona put him back. Jasmine's rich friend David brings a friend for Fiona but she isn't interested. Mickey gets out of jail and Ian hooks him up with a job at the grocery store. Lip becomes concerned that because Karen isn't sleeping with her new boyfriend Jody she must be falling in love with him. Veronica drives the old folks around on their weekly shopping trip but they beg her for something more exciting.

The Good: This was a slow burn episode, setting up stories to come rather than delivering much drama. Which is all fine by me.

Lip again stood out as he slowly turned into the Spike of Shameless. I'm watching out for spoilers so I won't explain that analogy further. His increasing sadness that Karen doesn't return his feelings was well portrayed. His stoic acceptance of reality combined with occasional outbursts of emotion can be compelling to watch.

Fiona was good too as she gave Frank an earful over adding further to her burdens by renting his room out to a pregnant Chinese woman. The sense of weight bearing down on her came across well and she wins you over by refusing to be a tyrant. She clearly sympathises with Debbie's desire for privacy and equally understands Carl's reflexive need to have his own space.

The strongest theme of the episode revolved more around the community which Shameless explores rather than any of the individual characters. Here we got to know the local old folks, a young man coming out of jail and a woman who spent years destroying her heart with drink and drugs. Not many TV shows are exploring the lives of the poor and though this isn't The Wire, there's still something pleasing about this departure from the norm. Veronica's unplanned stop at the park was easy sentiment and Mickey made for an unexpectedly good bouncer. Hopefully both stories will lead somewhere interesting in episodes to come.

As for Dottie and Frank, I'm not sure where that is headed. There is something fascinating about watching Frank. There aren't many characters on TV who you feel are capable of anything. You wouldn't put it past him to watch Dottie die and somehow try to keep her disability checks coming or something equally villainous. You could also imagine him developing a genuine affection for her.

Another watchable thing about Frank is that he is clever and he can be charming. He makes Dottie laugh with his wit and I liked his cutting line to Mickey to enjoy his "sabbatical" from prison. He can also turn that wit on his own children with devastating effect as he slams Carl down with horrible language about his conception (see The Unknown for more on Frank).

The Bad: There were a couple of moments which felt lazier than they needed to be. The bar flies all discuss how they once let Frank live with them and wouldn't let it happen again just as Antoine walks in with news of Dottie. Similarly when Lip asks Kev about girls who don't sleep with you Kev decides to go on and on and on about it so that we have enough time to picture Karen and Jody and not miss the point.

The Unknown: Frank got more screen time than anyone and to some extent I'm just happy to watch him. But there is a part of me that doesn't know what to feel when he is sleazing his way around a woman's home. When you know he is capable of screwing her over at the drop of a hat you want to despise him and yet the story inevitably feels like it's set up to make us cheer him on. It's a conflict that's ongoing and this week stayed within the lines.

Fiona really needs to open a bank account. Leaving money in a tin in that house is a terrible idea.

Best Moment: Nothing stood out particularly but I will give it to Lip deciding not to go see Karen at the end of the episode. Lip's great moments of realisation are probably going to come in silence rather than monologues and so far he has played those moments really well.

The Bottom Line: Just a slow steady build of storylines. The show's subject matter keeps it interesting even when the stories are basic.

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Comments

  • Yes I don't understand why she insists on this, but I guess intense loyalty is also one of best qualities of this family.

    Posted by Kayode from Baltimore, 18/01/2012 3:15pm (6 years ago)

  • It is pretty interesting that Fiona insists that Frank "will be back." It seems like she accepts that she just can't turn him away forever.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 18/01/2012 11:11am (6 years ago)

  • Hello Robin and fellow tvcritic fans,
    Shameless is such a unique show with its elements of comedy and drama, so it’s always a mixed bag of fun. This episode was no different.
    Frank as a protagonist has always been a conflict for me. Just like Dottie, I know I shouldn’t get charmed by him but it’s impossible not to find him compelling. Then he has moments like the one he had with Carl, and I just want to punch him in the face. Frankly, I am surprised he hasn’t planned some kind of minor violence to sabotage Sheila’s progress. Maybe he won’t sink that low, but then again this is Frank we are talking about. I see bad things ahead.
    The only question I have for Fiona is; “why the hell does Frank still have a key to the house?”
    Not the best episode, but subtle in all the nice agonizing places and fun as usual. I especially appreciated the quiet but sad bus ride. The depiction of the old folks just had me shaking my head at this slow death. Definitely life is to be lived, if this is old age.
    Looking forward to next week, hope everyone has a fun week

    Posted by Kayode from Baltimore, 18/01/2012 12:26am (6 years ago)

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