When Showtime first started showing previews for Shameless during the last season of Dexter, I wasn’t that impressed. I thought it was going to be some quirky little family dramedy, with lots of clichéd characters.
I was so, so wrong.
Last night was the third episode of Shameless, and I am devouring this series like I haven’t eaten in years. Maybe I’m going way overboard here, but I feel a certain electricity when I’m watching it, like I’m fully aware that I’m experiencing something awesome.
It all starts and ends with the kids in this series. The casting is spot-on, from Emmy Rossum down to the twins playing the baby. I love EVERYONE in this show.
Last night’s episode involved the Gallaghers trying to maintain their Social Security scam. Unbeknownst to the children, Frank has been collecting and cashing Social Security checks meant for his aunt. An aunt that’s been dead for twelve years. An overzealous government agent arrives at the house looking for said aunt.
This show relishes moral ambiguity, but we can’t help but root for the Gallaghers to get out of their predicament. The children recruit an addled old woman from a local nursing home, and have her play the role of “Aunt Ginger”. This sounds morally reprehensible—and it is—but the old woman is so happy to do it. They make her feel useful for the first time in probably years, and everyone really enjoys having her around.
This week also dug a little deeper into Ian’s character, who spends the entire episode running from a group of sociopathic brothers bent on defending their sister’s honor (what little there is of it). Ian made the mistake of rejecting the advances of a young woman, and she sends her brothers out to beat him. After finally admitting to the girl that he’s gay, they enter into a lavender marriage of sorts. They become boyfriend and girlfriend in all ways but sex.
We’ll see where that goes.
I think the crux of this series is the subtle and satisfying way that they present the relationships between the characters. The show doesn’t smack you over the head with plot—the main focus is character conversation, and their reactions to the fucked up things going on around them. By throwing the viewer into this cauldron (with no judgment to skew the perspective), you get to live vicariously through the each of the Gallaghers, really understanding their chaotic existence.
It’s kind of awesome, and I’m going to keep watching.