WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
During Thanksgiving break, I was left with a little downtime so I decided to start watching a new Netflix series. (probably a little risky given finals were in 2 weeks) I occasionally heard of the show Shameless being mentioned, and after asking for opinions, everyone recommended that I watched it.
For those of you who don't know about the famous Gallaghers, Shameless is a U.S. television remake of a British program that airs on Showtime (also available on Netflix) that is accurately described as "family dysfunction at it's finest." It follows a working-class family of six in the south-side area of Chicago, which includes the deadbeat, alcoholic father, Frank Gallagher, and his six children (Fiona, Lip, Ian, Debbie, Carl and Liam) who are left to fend for themselves when he goes out in search of misadventure, which usually includes scamming people out of their money.
I started watching this over Thanksgiving and now I'm already halfway through season 3. That never happens. It usually takes me WEEKS to finish a season let alone having yet to finish a Netflix series altogether. I think it's safe to say I'm absolutely hooked, and I was even more excited to discover that there's a new season that premiered back in October. Here's why.
1. It's not a stereotypical television show
I find that Shameless offers a more refreshing concept of the working-class perspective. It's definitely raw and even ugly at times, but it's just one of those things where you can't look away. It's the perfect blend of comedy and drama. Regardless if it's realistic or not, it is highly entertaining. I don't really care too much about watching programs dealing with young adults in their mid to late 20's maneuvering through the hardships of adulthood in a big city. Leave that for 90's sitcoms where it was depicted best.
2. The characters' antics
Given the poor state of the Gallaghers, they will do anything to earn a quick buck or get themselves out of trouble. Between Debbie stealing a neighborhood kid and having older siblings Fiona, Lip and Ian create a full-proof plan devised to make it look like it wasn't child abduction, and Frank having an older woman pose as his Aunt to be interviewed by the IRS to continue to have him receive her social security check, the antics of the characters are either dangerous, outrageous, cruel, heartfelt or downright hilarious. It's called shameless for a reason.
3. Lip Gallagher
Portrayed by Jeremy Allen White, Phillip "Lip" Gallagher is the second oldest child in the gang and is unarguably one of my favorite characters in the show. Lip is the bad boy we all want to fix. Beyond that "I don't give a damn" exterior and those intense blue eyes, he is witty, intelligent and secretly genuine. Lip is the best big brother to Debbie, Carl and Liam and even decides to travel out of state to rescue Mandy's half-sister from being put into foster care when her mother dies from overdosing. There are many sides to him which I believe makes him the most diverse, not to mention he is really attractive. You will fall in love with Lip.
4. Sheila Jackson
This is easily Joan Cusack's best role. There is plenty of comedy in this show, but I'd have to say that Sheila is the best source of comic relief amidst all the drama that occasionally takes place. She is probably the quirkiest of them all with her agoraphobia (fear of outside environment) and her clueless nature, but despite that, Sheila's heart is in the best place when she shows unconditional love to her crazy daughter Karen or taking in manipulative Frank when he gets kicked out. Not to mention she is downright hilarious.
5. The Cliffhangers
Every good show has a cliffhanger at the end of every episode to get you hooked into watching the next one. Next thing you know its 2 a.m. and you have to be up in 5 hours for class. I have to say the Thanksgiving episode in Season 2 was the most intense I've seen thus far when Monica (the kids' absent mother who returns for a short time) attempts suicide in the kitchen and ends up recovering in the same hospital Lip's then-girlfriend, Karen, was giving birth to their son in, only to discover that the Asian baby she births was not his.
6. Fiona as caretaker
It's crazy to see how the eldest daughter, Fiona Gallagher, is able to fully take on the responsibility of caretaker of 5 other kids while Frank is out drinking all day and night at the Alibi, and Monica walked out. I realize it's just a TV show, but you have to realize that scenarios like this occur out in the real world where young women and men are forced to put aside being young and even dropping out of high school (which Fiona did in 11th grade) to take on parental responsibilities. Just something to think about.
7. The family is quite Intelligent
I guess when you live in the ghetto you're kind of forced to be street smart. Given Fiona's age, I'd say that applies to her most. However, Lip is the embodiment of academic intelligence with his 4.6 GPA and kids paying him to take their SAT's. Ian (usually) is aware of what's right and wrong. Debbie is wiser beyond her years accompanied by a large vocabulary and a great entrepreneurial spirit. Carl is still naïve and Liam is just a baby, but I'm sure they'll come around when the time comes. Even Frank is quite the intellectual with his manipulative schemes, but his intentions are usually incredibly low and only involve making money. I'm just hoping Carl stops melting things in the microwave.