After giving into peer pressure, I finally began watching "Shameless" on Netflix (also partly because I ran out of shows to watch). "Shameless" is about a family of six kids, one father, and their neighbors who live in the projects and are in extreme poverty. The father is a dead-beat dad and an alcoholic who owes money to everyone. The kids are smart: class president, the perfect score on the SATs. Their mother left them and their big sister, Fiona takes care of all of them.
Not many people understand the idea of what it's like to live it the projects or how people live in poverty, but this show puts things in a very clear perspective that have you appreciating everyone a lot more and respect everyone's background.
Here are some things I learned from "Shameless" for those who go through poverty or live in a bad neighborhood:
1. Everyone helps each other out.Giphy
In the show, Fiona's neighbors are her best friends, helping each other with everything and borrowing everything from a toaster to a bathroom. Furthermore, people exchange food for babysitting or chores. This system of reliance on each other for trade without money, although ancient, becomes an essential key to surviving. (In the GIF is Kevin--Fiona's neighbor's boyfriend/husband?)
2. Food isn't what it seems.Giphy
In the show, many of the characters are seen watering down milk to have it last another day or the OJ (orange juice). Because Fiona's family can't afford to buy groceries on a daily basis, they work their best to make food last every day.
3. Stealing is normal.Giphy
Stealing for survival, not for fun. Throughout the show, you see Fiona and other characters stealing from parked delivery trucks or their work--anything left over that is simple to take home to eat to make it to the next day. For example, Fiona steals toilet paper from public restrooms and work.
4. Money is money.Giphy
No matter how you earned it--money is money. If you stole it, life's too short to return it or give it back, according to "Shameless". Frank, Fiona's father, is willing to sober up for Here are weeks and change his entire life to earn $3,000 part of a clinical trial even though he's a crazy alcoholic, but for the money, he'll do anything. For a couple of days, he does a complete 360 wanting to remodel the entire house, provide breakfast for his kids when usually he's out late drinking and is never up in the mornings and spends his whole day at the bar or looking for money. He also fakes rib injuries and migraines to get a disability check every month. Furthermore, after his workers' compensation ends, Frank tries to find more work to injure himself
Most of the time we don't think about what we buy or how much it is. In a couple of days most of us will walk by a Starbucks and think about how much we really need the coffee and don't think that $5.00 is a lot, but when we're working shift by shift with a high school education, $5.00 means the world to us.
5. When jobs aren't available, you might have to get down and dirty.
Fiona takes up some jobs that require her to show off her body at a restaurant, kind of like the modern-day Hooter's, where girls dress in a scandalous fashion and guys tip the girls in by placing money into their shorts. After she returns home, Fiona is seen crying in the bathroom, ashamed.
This correlates with modern-day prostitution. Many women find that they make more money with prostitution and keep it as a job since they have to pay the bills, child support, and everything else that goes on in their lives. Similarly, Fiona has to pay off the bills, replace the gas heater, and much more and is forced into a position to use her body for money.
6. Not going to college is normal.Giphy
Phillip, Fiona's younger brother makes amazing robotic technologies and scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT. A professor from the University of Chicago invites him on campus and tells him to apply, however, Phillip isn't even sure about going to college and the first thing he thinks of is the debt he'll be in and leaving his family. Furthermore, Fiona dropped out of high school he junior year because her mother left and someone needed to take care of all the kids. During the show, Fiona says something along the lines of how she could get by shift-to-shift and paycheck-to-paycheck to help out her family and it would be perfectly fine.
Education is really important, as many of us know, but for those who struggle through life, the notion of "paycheck-to-paycheck" becomes a serious reality that we consider. So next time you meet someone who hasn't finished high school, middle school, or college, give them some respect and think about what they may have gone through before judging them.