Showtime has a talent for producing dramatic, crude, and uncensored stand-up comedies, movies and television series. One in particular is Shameless by Paul Abbott, which now has 1.44 million viewers tuning in each week. The show stars William H. Macy(Frank), Emmy Rossum(Fiona), Jeremy Allen White(Phillip “Lip”), Cameron Monaghan(Ian), Emma Kenney(Debbie), Ethan Cutkosky(Carl), Brenden Sims(Liam), Shanola Hampton(Veronica), Steve Howey(Kevin), Joan Cusack(Sheila), and many more. The show first aired in 2011, and Showtime is currently airing the sixth season this month. “Shameless” is an extraordinary account of events that happen to the family of two dysfunctional parents and their six children, who are known as the Gallaghers. The oldest sister, Fiona (Emmy Rossum) raises her younger siblings because of a mostly absent, but sometimes present, bipolar mother, Monica, and alcoholic, substance abusing father, Frank. Their poverty stricken lives revolve around the struggles each of them have, while living in an old house on the South Side of Chicago.
In the beginning of the series, we are introduced to Fiona and her siblings who all work hard to make ends meet. Their father Frank lives off disability checks, and is often found at the local bar “The Alibi Room.” By night, if he hasn’t made it home, he sleeps wherever he passes out. Frank also has an addiction to marijuana, heroin, meth, cocaine, and any other type of drugs that he can obtain. His older children despise him and often lock him out of the house, while his younger children idolize him, as they have no other parent. Frank revisits old sexual partners and always has a devious scheme for filling his pockets with cash. Sadly, he never shares it with his family, or pays any bills.
Monica comes and goes throughout the first three seasons. She has bipolar disorder, so we never knew what outrageous behavior she would have next. In Season 2, Monica attempts to slit her wrists in the kitchen while visiting during Thanksgiving dinner. The whole family and their beloved next-door neighbors “Kev” and “V” were present. That moment was a huge turning point in the show. First, you wonder how the children will take it, as it is extremely disturbing. Second, you wonder which of the siblings will show sign of the illness, considering bipolar disorder can be hereditary sometimes.
Another extreme moment in the show is in Season 4. Fiona gets a new job and begins dating her boss. Then she cheats on her new boyfriend with his recently out of rehab brother. Fiona’s boyfriend finds out, and he fires her. At an ultimate low, she accepts cocaine from his brother and has a house party. Her toddler brother, Liam, accidentally overdoses on the drug. Liam lives, but Fiona is arrested for reckless endangerment of a child and serves a few months in prison. After she is released she spends a few months on house arrest. Around this times she has alienated her siblings because of her irresponsible actions. Fiona’s pain is raw and lengthy, as she feels maternal to all of them. In this season Fiona nearly loses herself because of the cold treatment she receives. All this touches on a bigger meaning to the show: The Gallagher’s always look out for one another.
Then Debbie, the fourth oldest Gallagher, becomes obsessed with losing her virginity before she is 16-years-old. She’s only 14. In the beginning, while Debbie’s character is developing, she comes off as the smart one. She stays out of trouble and always behaves responsibly. However, as the seasons progress, a different Debbie is revealed. It becomes painful as she is introduced to teenage life and all the not so great decisions she ends up making. In the fifth season she invites her 20- year-old ex-boyfriend Matty to her home for a small party. After he is intoxicated, she drags him up to her room and gets comfortable after he passed out. She uses a condom, but the next day he tells her that it was considered rape because he was unconscious the entire time. Within this same season, Debbie informs Fiona that she wants to get a prescription for the pill. Before the 48 hours the pill takes to be effective, Debbie tells her new boyfriend that she is “on the pill.” Why would she be so risky? He trusts her, they have intercourse, and Debbie winds up pregnant.
Almost in parallel sequence, Fiona also becomes pregnant by her new boss/boyfriend at the diner she works at. Fiona and Debbie go through a feud, because Fiona thinks Debbie is too young to have a baby and wants her to get an abortion along with her. This is a breaking moment in Debbie’s character and for the show, because no one wants a teenage girl to be pregnant, and getting an abortion seems unethical to Debbie. While all this is taking place, Debbie’s boyfriend has disappeared to Florida and left her alone to pick up the pieces. Debbie has a power struggle with Fiona, because she is her guardian and Debbie is still a minor, but Debbie wants to have her baby and no one is going to stop her. This kind of scenario doesn’t always happen, but there are plenty of 15-year-old mothers out there, and the struggle of being a teen mother is surreal. I can’t wait to see what kind of mother she becomes.
From Season 1 to Season 6, I was drawn to this television series as I watched each character’s personality develop. I truly enjoy how the show incorporates just enough real life scenarios with exaggerated outcomes. It makes a perfectly sad and funny account of events. Each one of them deals with their own problems, and they help one another cope with different issues that come with the average and extreme situations they all deal with. With each season I felt like I became part of this family while they struggled and had heartwarming moments. The Gallagher’s aren’t a normal family, yet they deal with real life complications just like any other low income family would. I grew to feel sorry for some of them at different times, and angry with them when they are clearly making a bad decision or a mistake. Many times I wondered how the characters continue with their lives, due to all the outrageous events they deal with. Even with all the drama, the show still incorporates just as much humor, which keeps me laughing along the way. Between evading the law, child protective services, welfare fraud investigators, and making money for the bills, food, and rent each week, running drugs, dealing with addictions and illnesses, scamming, stealing, and running bootleg businesses, as well as avoiding Frank (who only looks to them for money or ways to make it), one never knows what kind of twisted adventure “Shameless” will take them on.